- offensive, selfish, or unaccommodating; nasty; malicious: a mean remark; He gets mean when he doesn't get his way.
- small-minded or ignoble: mean motives.
- penurious, stingy, or miserly: a person who is mean about money.
- inferior in grade, quality, or character: no mean reward.
- low in status, rank, or dignity: mean servitors.
- of little importance or consequence: mean little details.
- unimposing or shabby: a mean abode.
- small, humiliated, or ashamed: You should feel mean for being so stingy.
- Informal. in poor physical condition.
- troublesome or vicious; bad-tempered: a mean old horse.
- Slang. skillful or impressive: He blows a mean trumpet.
Origin of mean2
- Usually means. (used with a singular or plural verb) an agency, instrument, or method used to attain an end: The telephone is a means of communication. There are several means of solving the problem.
- available resources, especially money: They lived beyond their means.
- considerable financial resources; riches: a man of means.
- something that is midway between two extremes; something intermediate: to seek a mean between cynicism and blind faith.
- a quantity having a value intermediate between the values of other quantities; an average, especially the arithmetic mean.
- either the second or third term in a proportion of four terms.
- Statistics. expected value. See mathematical expectation(def 2).
- Logic. the middle term in a syllogism.
- occupying a middle position or an intermediate place, as in kind, quality, degree, or time: a mean speed; a mean course; the mean annual rainfall.
- by all means,
- (in emphasis) certainly: Go, by all means.
- at any cost; without fail.
- by any means, in any way; at all: We were not surprised at the news by any means.
- by means of, with the help of; by the agency of; through: We crossed the stream by means of a log.
- by no means, in no way; not at all: The prize is by no means certain.
Origin of mean3
Related Words for meanerselfish, greedy, hard, vile, dangerous, malicious, callous, vicious, evil, ugly, dirty, nasty, rough, miserable, vulgar, petty, humble, close, penny-pinching, mercenary
Examples from the Web for meaner
Contemporary Examples of meaner
Capaldi, 56, is not just older than the recent Doctors, he is meaner.Doctor Who’s ‘Deep Breath’: The 2,000-Year-Old Time Lord Grows Up
August 8, 2014
This is How the NRA Ends Alec McGillis, The New Republic A bigger, meaner gun control movement has arrived.The Week’s Best Longreads for June 1, 2013
June 1, 2013
He did it very slowly, he said, “This … book … is … about … the … only … woman … meaner than you.”Ron Rash: How I Write
February 27, 2013
Most women, having come of age in the company of girls, know there are few things pettier—and meaner—than this sort of comparison.Michelle Obama and Ann Romney: First Ladies of Style
October 24, 2012
Peter Beinart says the House will be a duller, meaner place when he leaves.Charlie Rangel Found Guilty
November 16, 2010
Historical Examples of meaner
The one next to it is a sword of the same period, only used by a meaner person.Viviette
William J. Locke
I surrounded myself with the smaller natures and the meaner minds.De Profundis
A meaner temple was never consecrated to the worship of the Deity.Main Street
"Maybe I've been mean—but you're been meaner," she summed up, in self-justification.Good Indian
B. M. Bower
I thought my dad was meaner than a spiled herrin' to keep on sayin' no when I said yes.Thankful's Inheritance
Joseph C. Lincoln
- (may take a clause as object or an infinitive) to intend to convey or express
- (may take a clause as object or an infinitive) intendshe didn't mean to hurt it
- (may take a clause as object) to say or do in all seriousnessthe boss means what he says about strikes
- (often passive often foll by for) to destine or design (for a certain person or purpose)she was meant for greater things
- (may take a clause as object) to denote or connote; signify; representexamples help show exactly what a word means
- (may take a clause as object) to produce; causethe weather will mean long traffic delays
- (may take a clause as object) to foretell; portendthose dark clouds mean rain
- to have the importance ofmoney means nothing to him
- (intr) to have the intention of behaving or acting (esp in the phrases mean well or mean ill)
- mean business to be in earnest
Word Origin for mean
- mainly British miserly, ungenerous, or petty
- humble, obscure, or lowlyhe rose from mean origins to high office
- despicable, ignoble, or callousa mean action
- poor or shabbymean clothing; a mean abode
- informal, mainly US and Canadian bad-tempered; vicious
- informal ashamedhe felt mean about not letting the children go to the zoo
- informal, mainly US unwell; in low spirits
- slang excellent; skilfulhe plays a mean trombone
- no mean
- of high qualityno mean performer
- difficultno mean feat
Word Origin for mean
- the middle point, state, or course between limits or extremes
- statistics a statistic obtained by multiplying each possible value of a variable by its probability and then taking the sum or integral over the range of the variable
- intermediate or medium in size, quantity, etc
- occurring halfway between extremes or limits; average
Word Origin for mean
"intend, have in mind," Old English mænan "to mean, intend, signify; tell, say; complain, lament," from West Germanic *mainijan (cf. Old Frisian mena "to signify," Old Saxon menian "to intend, signify, make known," Dutch menen, German meinen "think, suppose, be of the opinion"), from PIE *meino- "opinion, intent" (cf. Old Church Slavonic meniti "to think, have an opinion," Old Irish mian "wish, desire," Welsh mwyn "enjoyment"), perhaps from root *men- "think" (see mind (n.)). Conversational question you know what I mean? attested by 1834.
"low-quality," c.1200, "shared by all," from imene, from Old English gemæne "common, public, general, universal, shared by all," from Proto-Germanic *ga-mainiz "possessed jointly" (cf. Old Frisian mene, Old Saxon gimeni, Middle Low German gemeine, Middle Dutch gemene, Dutch gemeen, German gemein, Gothic gamains "common"), from PIE *ko-moin-i- "held in common," a compound adjective formed from collective prefix *ko- "together" (Proto-Germanic *ga-) + *moi-n-, suffixed form of PIE root *mei- "to change, exchange" (see mutable). Cf. second element in common (adj.), a word with a sense evolution parallel to that of this word.
Of things, "inferior, second-rate," from late 14c. (a secondary sense in Old English was "false, wicked"). Notion of "so-so, mediocre" led to confusion with mean (n.). Meaning "inferior in rank or status" (of persons) emerged early 14c.; that of "ordinary" from late 14c.; that of "stingy, nasty" first recorded 1660s; weaker sense of "disobliging, pettily offensive" is from 1839, originally American English slang. Inverted sense of "remarkably good" (i.e. plays a mean saxophone) first recorded c.1900, perhaps from phrase no mean _______ "not inferior" (1590s, also, "not average," reflecting further confusion with mean (n.)).
"that which is halfway between extremes," early 14c., from Old French meien "middle, means, intermediary," noun use of adjective from Latin medianus "of or that is in the middle" (see mean (adj.2)). Oldest sense is musical; mathematical sense is from c.1500. Some senes reflect confusion with mean (adj.1). This is the mean in by no means (late 15c.).
"calculate an arithemtical mean," 1882, from mean (n.).
"occupying a middle or intermediate place," mid-14c., from Anglo-French meines (plural), Old French meien, variant of moiien "mid-, medium, common, middle-class" (12c., Modern French moyen), from Late Latin medianus "of the middle," from Latin medius "in the middle" (see medial (adj.)). Meaning "intermediate in time" is from mid-15c. Mathematical sense is from late 14c.
- Something having a position, quality, or condition midway between extremes; a medium.
- A number that typifies a set of numbers, such as a geometric mean or an arithmetic mean.
- The average value of a set of numbers.
- Occupying a middle or intermediate position between two extremes.
- Intermediate in size, extent, quality, time, or degree; medium.
- A number or quantity having a value that is intermediate between other numbers or quantities, especially an arithmetic mean or average. See more at arithmetic mean.
- Either the second or third term of a proportion of four terms. In the proportion 23 = 46, the means are 3 and 4. Compare extreme.
In addition to the idioms beginning with mean
- mean business
- mean to
, also see under