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meaning

[mee-ning] /ˈmi nɪŋ/
noun
1.
what is intended to be, or actually is, expressed or indicated; signification; import:
the three meanings of a word.
2.
the end, purpose, or significance of something:
What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of this intrusion?
3.
Linguistics.
  1. the nonlinguistic cultural correlate, reference, or denotation of a linguistic form; expression.
  2. linguistic content (opposed to expression).
adjective
4.
intentioned (usually used in combination):
She's a well-meaning person.
5.
full of significance; expressive:
a meaning look.
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English (noun); see mean1, -ing1, -ing2
Related forms
meaningly, adverb
meaningness, noun
submeaning, noun
undermeaning, noun
Synonyms
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.

mean1

[meen] /min/
verb (used with object), meant, meaning.
1.
to have in mind as one's purpose or intention; intend:
I meant to compliment you on your work.
Synonyms: contemplate.
2.
to intend for a particular purpose, destination, etc.:
They were meant for each other.
Synonyms: destine, foreordain.
3.
to intend to express or indicate:
What do you mean by “liberal”?
4.
to have as its sense or signification; signify:
The word “freedom” means many things to many people.
5.
to bring, cause, or produce as a result:
This bonus means that we can take a trip to Florida.
6.
to have (certain intentions) toward a person:
He didn't mean you any harm.
7.
to have the value of; assume the importance of:
Money means everything to them. She means the world to him.
verb (used without object), meant, meaning.
8.
to be minded or disposed; have intentions:
Beware, she means ill, despite her solicitous manner.
Idioms
9.
mean well, to have good intentions; try to be kind or helpful:
Her constant queries about your health must be tiresome, but I'm sure she means well.
Origin
before 900; Middle English menen, Old English mǣnan; cognate with German meinen, Dutch meenen
Can be confused
mean, mien.
Synonyms
1. See intend.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for meaning
  • When enough redundant words are added, the meaning of the message becomes unique.
  • These movements take on different meanings in different contexts.
  • The meaning has changed dramatically over time.
  • But there's also meaning in the sheer artistry of the place.
  • We had conversations about everything from the meaning of life to the meaning of government to what it means to be a good citizen.
  • Clever gangster drama reaches way too far for meaning.
  • As groups are assigned, make sure students understand the meaning of the word their group was given.
  • I'd been meaning forever to donate money to the organization.
  • So a multiple of senses can find meaning in one symbol.
  • The meaning of success is not limited to academic and musical spheres.
British Dictionary definitions for meaning

meaning

/ˈmiːnɪŋ/
noun
1.
the sense or significance of a word, sentence, symbol, etc; import; semantic or lexical content
2.
the purpose underlying or intended by speech, action, etc
3.
the inner, symbolic, or true interpretation, value, or message: the meaning of a dream
4.
valid content; efficacy: a law with little or no meaning
5.
(philosophy)
  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)
adjective
6.
expressive of some sense, intention, criticism, etc: a meaning look
See also well-meaning

mean1

/miːn/
verb (mainly transitive) means, meaning, meant
1.
(may take a clause as object or an infinitive) to intend to convey or express
2.
(may take a clause as object or an infinitive) intend: she didn't mean to hurt it
3.
(may take a clause as object) to say or do in all seriousness: the boss means what he says about strikes
4.
(often passive) often foll by for. to destine or design (for a certain person or purpose): she was meant for greater things
5.
(may take a clause as object) to denote or connote; signify; represent: examples help show exactly what a word means
6.
(may take a clause as object) to produce; cause: the weather will mean long traffic delays
7.
(may take a clause as object) to foretell; portend: those dark clouds mean rain
8.
to have the importance of: money means nothing to him
9.
(intransitive) to have the intention of behaving or acting (esp in the phrases mean well or mean ill)
10.
mean business, to be in earnest
Usage note
In standard English, mean should not be followed by for when expressing intention: I didn't mean this to happen (not I didn't mean for this to happen)
Word Origin
Old English mænan; compare Old Saxon mēnian to intend, Dutch meenen

mean2

/miːn/
adjective
1.
(mainly Brit) miserly, ungenerous, or petty
2.
humble, obscure, or lowly: he rose from mean origins to high office
3.
despicable, ignoble, or callous: a mean action
4.
poor or shabby: mean clothing, a mean abode
5.
(informal, mainly US & Canadian) bad-tempered; vicious
6.
(informal) ashamed: he felt mean about not letting the children go to the zoo
7.
(informal, mainly US) unwell; in low spirits
8.
(slang) excellent; skilful: he plays a mean trombone
9.
no mean
  1. of high quality: no mean performer
  2. difficult: no mean feat
Derived Forms
meanly, adverb
meanness, noun
Word Origin
C12: from Old English gemǣne common; related to Old High German gimeini, Latin communis common, at first with no pejorative sense

mean3

/miːn/
noun
1.
the middle point, state, or course between limits or extremes
2.
moderation
3.
(maths)
  1. the second and third terms of a proportion, as b and c in a/b = c/d
  2. another name for average (sense 2) See also geometric mean
4.
(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
adjective
5.
intermediate or medium in size, quantity, etc
6.
occurring halfway between extremes or limits; average
See also means
Word Origin
C14: via Anglo-Norman from Old French moien, from Late Latin mediānusmedian
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 meaning
n.

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

mean

v.

"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.

"calculate an arithemtical mean," 1882, from mean (n.).

adj.

"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.)).

"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.

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.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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meaning in Medicine

mean (mēn)
n.

  1. Something having a position, quality, or condition midway between extremes; a medium.

  2. A number that typifies a set of numbers, such as a geometric mean or an arithmetic mean.

  3. The average value of a set of numbers.

adj.
  1. Occupying a middle or intermediate position between two extremes.

  2. Intermediate in size, extent, quality, time, or degree; medium.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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meaning in Science
mean
  (mēn)   
  1. 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.

  2. Either the second or third term of a proportion of four terms. In the proportion 2/3 = 4/6 , the means are 3 and 4. Compare extreme.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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meaning in Culture

mean definition


An average in statistics. (See under “Physical Sciences and Mathematics.”)

mean definition


In statistics, an average of a group of numbers or data points. With a group of numbers, the mean is obtained by adding them and dividing by the number of numbers in the group. Thus the mean of five, seven, and twelve is eight (twenty-four divided by three). (Compare median and mode.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for meaning

mean

adjective

Excellent; wonderful; classy, wicked: This girl has already proved she can play a mean game of tennis/ And Wheelright had a great, mean ear for dialect (1900+ Black)

Related Terms

lean and mean, shake a wicked calf


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with meaning

mean

, also see under
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for meaning

mean

in mathematics, a quantity that has a value intermediate between those of the extreme members of some set. Several kinds of mean exist, and the method of calculating a mean depends upon the relationship known or assumed to govern the other members. The arithmetic mean, denoted x, of a set of n numbers x1, x2, , xn is defined as the sum of the numbers divided by n:

Learn more about mean with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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