mean Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

Meaning of “mean” in the English Dictionary

"mean" in British English

See all translations

meanverb

uk   /miːn/  us   /miːn/ (meant, meant)
  • mean verb (EXPRESS)

A2 [T] to express or represent something such as an idea, thought, or fact: What does this word mean? [+ that] These figures mean that almost six percent of the working population is unemployed. What do you mean by that remark? She's kind of strange though. Do you know what I mean? "They all showed up." "You mean the entire family?"
[T] used to add emphasis to what you are saying: I want you home by midnight. And I mean midnight. Give it back now! I mean it.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • mean verb (HAVE RESULT)

B1 [T] to have a particular result: Lower costs mean lower prices. [+ that] Advances in electronics mean that the technology is already available. [+ -ing verb] If we want to catch the 7.30 train, that will mean leaving the house at 6.00.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • mean verb (INTEND)

B1 [I or T] to intend: I'm sorry if I offended you - I didn't mean any harm. The books with large print are meant for partially sighted readers. [+ to infinitive] I've been meaning to call you all week. Do you think she meant to say 9 a.m. instead of 9 p.m.? They didn't mean for her to read the letter.
be meant to do sth
to be intended to: These batteries are meant to last for a year. This exercise isn't meant to be difficult. We were meant to have gone away this week, but Debbie's ill so we couldn't go. You are meant to rub the medicine on the affected area, not swallow it.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • I didn't mean to be rude - it just came out like that.
  • He doesn't really mean it - he's just being contrary.
  • He's always making flattering remarks, but he doesn't really mean them.
  • I didn't mean to upset her - it was just a bit of fun.
  • He didn't mean it - he said it in the heat of the moment.
  • mean verb (HAVE IMPORTANCE)

B1 [T] to have an important emotional effect on someone: It wasn't a valuable picture but it meant a lot to me. Possessions mean nothing to him.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • Her children mean all the world to her.
  • Gerald means nothing to me now.
  • Her career means everything to her.
  • Nothing means more to me than my children's happiness.
  • Her approval meant a lot to me.

meanadjective

uk   /miːn/  us   /miːn/
  • mean adjective (NOT GENEROUS)

B2 mainly UK not willing to give or share things, especially money: He's too mean to buy her a ring. My landlord's very mean with the heating - it's only on for two hours each day.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • mean adjective (NOT KIND)

B2 unkind or unpleasant: Stop being so mean to me! She just said it to be mean.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • mean adjective (MATHEMATICS)

C2 [before noun] specialized mathematics a mean number is an average number: a mean value Their mean weight was 76.4 kilos.

meannoun [S]

uk   /miːn/  us   /miːn/
  • mean noun [S] (MATHEMATICS)

specialized (also the arithmetic mean) mathematics the result you get by adding two or more amounts together and dividing the total by the number of amounts: The mean of 5, 4, 10, and 15 is 8.5.
Compare
  • mean noun [S] (METHOD)

formal a quality or way of doing something that is in the middle of two completely different qualities or ways of doing something: We need to find a mean between test questions that are too difficult and those that are too easy.
(Definition of mean from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"mean" in American English

See all translations

meanverb

 us   /min/ (past tense and past participle meant  /ment/ )
  • mean verb (EXPRESS)

[T] to represent or express something intended, or to refer to someone or something: "What does ’rough’ mean?" "It means ’not smooth.’" [+ that clause] These figures mean that almost 7% of the population is unemployed. "Do you see that girl over there?" "Do you mean the one with short blond hair?"
  • mean verb (HAVE RESULT)

[T] to have as a result: Lower costs mean higher profits. [+ (that) clause] If she doesn’t answer the phone, it means (that) she’s out in the garden.
  • mean verb (HAVE IMPORTANCE)

[T] to have the importance or value of: My grandmother’s ring wasn’t valuable, but it meant a lot to me.
  • mean verb (INTEND)

[I/T] to say or do something intentionally; intend: [T] I think she meant 8 o’clock, although she said 7 o’clock. [I] I’ve been meaning to call you but I’ve been so busy I never got around to it.
[I/T] Mean can also be used to add emphasis to what you are saying: [T] She means what she says.

meannoun [C]

 /min/
  • mean noun [C] (AVERAGE)

mathematics a number that is the result of adding a group of numbers together and then dividing the result by how many numbers were in the group

meanadjective [-er/-est only]

 us   /min/
unkind or not caring: I felt a little mean when I said I couldn’t visit her in the hospital until Saturday.
slang very good: She plays a mean bass fiddle.
(Definition of mean from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"mean" in Business English

See all translations

meannoun [S]

uk   us   /miːn/
(also arithmetic mean) MEASURES the result you get by adding two or more amounts together and dividing the total by the number of amounts: The mean of 5, 4, 10, and 15 is 8.5.
a quality or way of doing something that is in the middle of two completely different qualities or ways of doing something: a mean between sth and sth This description doesn't give enough information, and this one is too long – we need to find a mean between the two.

meanverb [T]

uk   us   /miːn/ (present participle meant, past tense and past participle meant)
to express or represent something such as an idea, thought, or fact: What does this word mean?mean sth by sth What do you mean by 'rightsizing the department'?
to have a particular result: Lower costs mean lower prices.mean (that) Advances in electronics mean that the technology is already available.mean doing sth If we increased our workforce, that would mean finding larger premises.

meanadjective

uk   us   /miːn/
MEASURES a mean number is the result you get by adding two or more amounts together and dividing the total by the number of amounts: The mean weight of the crates is 76.4 kilos. The table above shows the mean price per dozen of large grade A eggs.
unkind: be mean to sb If she's ever mean to staff, she always apologizes afterwards.
not generous: be mean with sth My boss is well known for being mean with money.
(Definition of mean from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of mean?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

“mean” in Business English

A bunch of stuff about plurals
A bunch of stuff about plurals
by ,
May 24, 2016
by Colin McIntosh One of the many ways in which English differs from other languages is its use of uncountable nouns to talk about collections of objects: as well as never being used in the plural, they’re never used with a or an. Examples are furniture (plural in German and many other languages), cutlery (plural in Italian), and

Read More 

Word of the Day

parasol

a type of sunshade (= round frame covered in cloth on a stick) carried especially by women in the past, to give protection from the sun

Word of the Day

convo noun
convo noun
May 23, 2016
informal a conversation The convo around concussions mostly focuses on guys who play football, but Chastain thinks that this whole thing could be a headache for women too.

Read More