Meaning of MEAN in English


I. ˈmēn verb

( meant ˈment ; mean·ing ˈmē-niŋ)

Etymology: Middle English menen, from Old English mǣnan; akin to Old High German meinen to have in mind, Old Church Slavic měniti to mention

Date: before 12th century

transitive verb


a. : to have in the mind as a purpose : intend

she mean s to win

— sometimes used interjectionally with I, chiefly in informal speech for emphasis

he throws, I mean , hard

or to introduce a phrase restating the point of a preceding phrase

we try to answer what we can, but I mean we're not God — Bobbie Ann Mason

b. : to design for or destine to a specified purpose or future

I was meant to teach

2. : to serve or intend to convey, show, or indicate : signify

a red sky mean s rain

3. : to have importance to the degree of

health mean s everything

4. : to direct to a particular individual

intransitive verb

: to have an intended purpose

he mean s well

• mean·er ˈmē-nər noun

- mean business

II. ˈmēn adjective

Etymology: Middle English mene, from imene common, shared, from Old English gemǣne; akin to Old High German gimeini common, Latin communis common, munus service, gift, Sanskrit mayate he exchanges

Date: 14th century

1. : lacking distinction or eminence : humble

2. : lacking in mental discrimination : dull


a. : of poor shabby inferior quality or status

mean city streets

b. : worthy of little regard : contemptible — often used in negative constructions as a term of praise

no mean feat

4. : lacking dignity or honor : base


a. : penurious , stingy

b. : characterized by petty selfishness or malice

c. : causing trouble or bother : vexatious

d. : excellent , effective

plays a mean trumpet

a lean, mean athlete

6. : ashamed 1b

• mean·ness ˈmēn-nəs noun


mean , ignoble , abject , sordid mean being below the normal standards of human decency and dignity. mean suggests having such repellent characteristics as small-mindedness, ill temper, or cupidity

mean and petty satire

ignoble suggests a loss or lack of some essential high quality of mind or spirit

an ignoble scramble after material possessions

abject may imply degradation, debasement, or servility

abject poverty

sordid is stronger than all of these in stressing physical or spiritual degradation and abjectness

a sordid story of murder and revenge

III. adjective

Etymology: Middle English mene, from Anglo-French mene, meiene, from Latin medianus — more at median

Date: 14th century

1. : occupying a middle position : intermediate in space, order, time, kind, or degree

2. : occupying a position about midway between extremes ; especially : being the mean of a set of values : average

the mean temperature

3. : serving as a means : intermediary

Synonyms: see average

IV. noun

Date: 14th century



(1) : something intervening or intermediate

(2) : a middle point between extremes

b. : a value that lies within a range of values and is computed according to a prescribed law: as

(1) : arithmetic mean

(2) : expected value

c. : either of the middle two terms of a proportion

2. plural but singular or plural in construction : something useful or helpful to a desired end

3. plural : resources available for disposal ; especially : material resources affording a secure life

- by all means

- by means of

- by no means

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate English vocabulary.      Энциклопедический словарь английского языка Merriam Webster.