Meaning of MEANS in English


means S2 W2 /miːnz/ BrE AmE noun ( plural means )

1 . METHOD [countable] a way of doing or achieving something

means of

For most people, the car is still their main means of transport.

The only means of communication was sign language.

The window was our only means of escape.

Do you have any means of identification?

art as a means of expression

Homework should not be used as a means of controlling children.

I had no means of telling him I would be late.

Brian was prepared to use any means to get what he wanted.

They had entered the country by unlawful means.

the means by which performance is assessed

2 . MONEY [plural] the money or income that you have

have the means to do something

I don’t have the means to support a family.

Paying for your children to go to a private school is beyond the means of most people (=too expensive for most people) .

Try to live within your means (=only spending what you can afford) .

His father was a man of means (=a rich man) .

3 . by all means! spoken used to mean ‘of course’ when politely allowing someone to do something or agreeing with a suggestion:

‘Can I bring Alan?’ ‘By all means!’

4 . by no means/not by any means not at all:

It is by no means certain that the game will take place.

She’s not a bad kid, by any means.

5 . by means of something formal using a particular method or system:

The blocks are raised by means of pulleys.

6 . a means to an end something that you do only to achieve a result, not because you want to do it or because it is important:

For Geoff, the job was simply a means to an end.

7 . the means of production the material, tools, and equipment that are used in the production of goods

⇨ ways and means at ↑ way 1 (1)

• • •


■ adjectives

▪ an effective/efficient means

Speed bumps are an effective means of stopping cars from going too fast.

▪ a useful means

Local radio is a useful means of advertising.

▪ the only means

Then, horses and carts were the only means of transport available.

▪ the best means

Is this really the best means of achieving our goal?

▪ an important means

Surveys are an important means of gathering information.

▪ lawful/legal means

Their protests will continue, but only by legal means.

▪ unlawful/illegal means

He was accused of attempting to overthrow the government using unlawful means.

▪ unfair means

Anyone trying to use unfair means in an examination will be reported to the University.

■ phrases

▪ a means of transport British English , a means of transportation American English (=a way of travelling, for example using a car, bus, bicycle etc)

The tram is an efficient means of transport.

▪ a means of communication (=a way of talking to someone, for example by phone, writing etc)

Newspapers are still an important means of communication.

▪ a means of expression (=a way of expressing your feelings or opinions)

Music and art are important means of expression.

▪ a means of identification (=an official document that shows who you are)

Do you have any means of identification?

▪ the means of production (=factories and equipment used for producing goods - used especially in Marxism)

the class of people which owns the means of production

▪ the end justifies the means (=the result you achieve is more important than the way you do it)

It’s too bad if people get hurt - the end justifies the means.

▪ a means to an end (=something you do only to achieve a result, not because you want to do it or because it is important)

Many of the students saw the course as a means to an end: a way of getting a good job.

▪ (whether) by fair means or foul (=using unfair methods if necessary)

They were determined to achieve victory, by fair means or foul.

■ verbs

▪ have no/any/some means of doing something

There was no path, and they had no means of knowing where they were.

▪ use any/every means to do something (=use any method or many methods)

He will use any means to get what he wants.

• • •


▪ method a way of doing something, especially one that is well known and often used:

You can choose whichever method of payment you prefer.


an environmentally friendly method for treating household waste

▪ way a set of actions that you use in order to do something. Way is more informal than method and is used more often in everyday English:

What’s the best way to remove wine stains?


a new way of treating the disease


There are lots of ways of cooking mushrooms.

▪ means something that you use to do something or achieve something:

Their main means of transport is their car.


E-mail is often the most convenient means of communication.


He looked around for a means of escape.


Education and training are the most efficient means of improving the nation’s economy.

▪ approach a way of dealing with a particular problem or situation, especially a way that has been carefully thought about or planned:

Today’s approach to raising children is very different from 40 years ago.


I think we need to try a different approach.

▪ technique a particular way of doing something, for which you need a skill that has to be learned and practised:

tips on how to improve your exam technique


More patients are surviving thanks to improved surgical techniques.

▪ tactics methods that you use in order to achieve what you want, especially in a game or competition:

There were complaints about police tactics used to clear demonstrators.


The team was discussing tactics for the game.

▪ strategy a set of carefully planned methods for achieving something that is difficult and may take a long time:

our sales strategy


a strategy to reduce the level of teenage smoking

▪ mode formal a particular way of doing something:

For him, painting is just another mode of expression.


You can choose between several different modes of operation.


the most efficient mode of transportation


Withdrawing a child from class is still the preferred mode of providing extra help to that child.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.