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[mee-ning] /ˈmi nɪŋ/
what is intended to be, or actually is, expressed or indicated; signification; import:
the three meanings of a word.
the end, purpose, or significance of something:
What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of this intrusion?
  1. the nonlinguistic cultural correlate, reference, or denotation of a linguistic form; expression.
  2. linguistic content (opposed to expression).
intentioned (usually used in combination):
She's a well-meaning person.
full of significance; expressive:
a meaning look.
Origin of meaning
1250-1300; Middle English (noun); see mean1, -ing1, -ing2
Related forms
meaningly, adverb
meaningness, noun
submeaning, noun
undermeaning, noun
1. tenor, gist, drift, trend. Meaning, purport, sense, significance denote that which is expressed or indicated by something. Meaning is the general word denoting that which is intended to be or actually is expressed or indicated: the meaning of a word or glance. Sense may be used to denote a particular meaning (among others) of a word or phrase: The word is frequently used in this sense. Sense may also be used loosely to refer to intelligible meaning: There's no sense in what he says. Significance refers particularly to a meaning that is implied rather than expressed: the significance of her glance; or to a meaning the importance of which may not be easy to perceive immediately: The real significance of his words was not grasped at the time. Purport is mainly limited to the meaning of a formal document, speech, important conversation, etc., and refers to the gist of something fairly complicated: the purport of your letter to the editor. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for meanings
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But the normal may have either of two meanings—it may, in the first place, mean the usual or customary.

    On the Ethics of Naturalism William Ritchie Sorley
  • It has two meanings, the one usual and obvious, the other figurative.

  • The words which change their meanings in this way tell us the longest, and perhaps the best, stories of all.

    Stories That Words Tell Us Elizabeth O'Neill
  • The following pages will indicate some of the symbols and their meanings.

  • Doubtless the effects of these preparing forces were felt, and their meanings discerned, only by a few.

    Lux Mundi Various
British Dictionary definitions for meanings


the sense or significance of a word, sentence, symbol, etc; import; semantic or lexical content
the purpose underlying or intended by speech, action, etc
the inner, symbolic, or true interpretation, value, or message: the meaning of a dream
valid content; efficacy: a law with little or no meaning
  1. the sense of an expression; its connotation
  2. the reference of an expression; its denotation. In recent philosophical writings meaning can be used in both the above senses See also sense (sense 12)
expressive of some sense, intention, criticism, etc: a meaning look
See also well-meaning
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for meanings



"sense, import, intent," c.1300, from mean (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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