Meaning of MEAN in English


1. (past and past part. meant)

1. a (often foll. by to + infin.) have as one's purpose or intention; have in mind (they really mean mischief; I didn't mean to break it). b (foll. by by) have as a motive in explanation (what do you mean by that?).

2 (often in passive) design or destine for a purpose (mean it to be used; mean it for a stopgap; is meant to be a gift).

3 intend to convey or indicate or refer to (a particular thing or notion) (I mean we cannot go; I mean Richmond in Surrey).

4 entail, involve (it means catching the early train).

5 (often foll. by that + clause) portend, signify (this means trouble; your refusal means that we must look elsewhere).

6 (of a word) have as its explanation in the same language or its equivalent in another language.

7 (foll. by to) be of some specified importance to (a person), esp. as a source of benefit or object of affection etc. (that means a lot to me).

Phrases and idioms:

mean business be in earnest. mean it not be joking or exaggerating. mean to say really admit (usu. in interrog.: do you mean to say you have lost it?). mean well (often foll. by to, towards, by) have good intentions.

Etymology: OE m{aelig}nan f. WG, rel. to MIND 2. adj.1 niggardly; not generous or liberal.

2 (of an action) ignoble, small-minded.

3 (of a person's capacity, understanding, etc.) inferior, poor.

4 (of housing) not imposing in appearance; shabby.

5 a malicious, ill-tempered. b US vicious or aggressive in behaviour.

6 colloq. skilful, formidable (is a mean fighter).

7 colloq. ashamed (feel mean).

Phrases and idioms:

no mean a very good (that is no mean achievement). mean White poor White.


meanly adv. meanness n.

Etymology: OE m{aelig}ne, gem{aelig}ne f. Gmc 3. n. & adj.


1. a condition, quality, virtue, or course of action equally removed from two opposite (usu. unsatisfactory) extremes.

2 Math. a the term or one of the terms midway between the first and last terms of an arithmetical or geometrical etc. progression (2 and 8 have the arithmetic mean 5 and the geometric mean 4). b the quotient of the sum of several quantities and their number, the average.


1. (of a quantity) equally far from two extremes.

2 calculated as a mean.

Phrases and idioms:

mean free path the average distance travelled by a gas molecule etc. between collisions. mean sea level the sea level halfway between the mean levels of high and low water. mean sun an imaginary sun moving in the celestial equator at the mean rate of the real sun, used in calculating solar time. mean time the time based on the movement of the mean sun.

Etymology: ME f. AF meen f. OF meien, moien f. L medianus MEDIAN

Oxford English vocab.      Оксфордский английский словарь.