Meaning of “meaning” in the English Dictionary

"meaning" in British English

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uk /ˈmiː.nɪŋ/ us /ˈmiː.nɪŋ/

meaning noun (OF WORD/WRITING/SIGN, ETC.)

B1 [ C or U ] The meaning of something is what it expresses or represents:

The word "flight" has two different meanings: a plane journey, and the act of running away.
The meaning of his gesture was clear.
His novels often have (a) hidden meaning.

More examples

  • The meaning of a sentence often depends on stress and intonation.
  • The literal meaning of 'television' is 'seeing from a distance'.
  • It's sometimes very difficult to draw a clear distinction between the meanings of different words.
  • Let's just say we had 'problems', if you get my meaning.
  • The skull at the bottom of the picture has a symbolic meaning - it represents death.

meaning noun (IMPORTANCE)

B2 [ U ] importance or value:

The birth of her first grandchild gave new meaning to her life.
Education had no great meaning for him until much later in his life.

More examples

  • Philosophers have searched for millennia but they haven't found the meaning of life.
  • Since I started this job, my life has had new meaning.
  • The work must be productive, to give it some meaning.
  • These youngsters cannot see the meaning in education.
  • Wealth has no meaning for them.

(Definition of “meaning” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"meaning" in American English

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us /ˈmi·nɪŋ/

meaning noun (IMPORTANCE)

[ U ] importance or value:

Life had lost its meaning for her.

meaning noun (EXPRESSION)

[ C/U ] what something represents or expresses:

[ C ] Do you know the meaning of this word?
[ C ] The word has several meanings.

(Definition of “meaning” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)