1 /mi:n/ verb (T) past tense and past participle meant /ment/
1 HAVE A PARTICULAR MEETING (not in progressive) to have or represent a particular meaning: "What does 'Konbanwa' mean in English?" "It means 'Good Evening'." | The red light means 'Stop'. | what is meant by (=what something means): What is meant by the term 'random access'? | mean (that): This signal means your message has been received.
2 INTEND TO SAY STH (not in progressive) to intend a particular meaning when you say something: mean (that): I meant we'd have to leave early - that's all. | what you mean/what she means etc: So what he means is that we'll have to start the whole thing again.
3 I mean spoken
a) used when explaining or giving an example of something, or when pausing to think about what you are going to say next: He's really very rude - I mean he never even says 'Good Morning'. | It's just not right. I mean it's unfair isn't it?
b) used to quickly correct something you have just said: She plays the violin, I mean the viola, really well.
4 do you know what I mean?/if you know what I mean spoken used when checking that someone has understood what you are saying: This year I want to buy her something really special. Do you know what I mean?
5 (do) you mean ...? spoken used when checking that you have understood what someone has said: You mean we're supposed to tell you if we want to leave early?
6 I know what you mean spoken used to tell someone that you understand what they are talking about, because you have had the same experience yourself: Oh, I know exactly what you mean. Things like that drive me crazy too.
7 I see what you mean spoken used to tell someone that you now understand what they have been saying: Yes, I see what you mean. That would be the best way to do it.
8 see what I mean? spoken used when checking that someone has understood something you have said, often by showing them an example of it: See what I mean? Every time she calls me up she wants me to do something for her.
9 that's what I mean spoken used when someone is saying the same thing that you were trying to say earlier: "We might not have enough money." "That's what I mean, so we'd better find out the price first."
10 how do you mean? spoken used to ask someone to explain what they have just said or tell you more about it: "He says he finds it difficult at times." "How do you mean?"
11 what do you mean ...? spoken
a) used when you do not understand what someone is trying to say
b) used when you are very surprised or annoyed by what someone has just said: What do you mean, you've cancelled the holiday? | What do you mean by that?
12 I mean to say spoken used when adding a reason or explanation for something you have just said, especially something you feel strongly about: Of course she wants to see the children, I mean to say, it's only natural isn't it?
13 SAY WHICH PERSON/THING I mean sb/sth usually spoken used to say that a particular person or thing is the one that you are talking about, pointing to etc: "Hey you!" "Do you mean me?" | I didn't mean that one, I meant this one.
14 INTEND (SB) TO DO (STH) especially spoken to intend to do something or intend that someone else should do something: mean to do sth: I've been meaning to phone you all week. | I didn't mean to interrupt your meal. | mean sb to do sth: Oh no! I never meant her to read those comments. | mean for sb to do sth especially AmE: I didn't mean for her to get hurt.
—see also: mean no harm harm 1 (3)
15 mean business to be determined to do something even if it involves hurting someone, or be very serious about something: We've got to show these gangsters we mean business. | Get upstairs now! I mean business!
16 he/she means well spoken used to say that someone intends to be helpful or kind, but often makes a situation worse: He may sound a bit rude at times, but he means well.
—see also: well­meaning, well­meant
17 I/he etc meant it for the best especially spoken used to say that someone wanted to do something helpful, but their actions had the wrong effect: I wasn't criticizing you, I really meant it for the best.
18 mean mischief/trouble to intend to cause trouble: I could tell from the look on his face that he meant mischief.
19 what do you mean by doing sth? spoken used to tell someone that you are very annoyed because of what they have done: What do you mean by calling me at this time of night?
20 SAY STH SERIOUSLY (not in progressive) to have a serious purpose in something you say or write: mean it: We've heard these threats before, but I think he means it this time. | mean what you say: She meant what she said - you'll have to watch out. | really mean: You don't really mean that, do you?
21 I didn't mean it spoken used to say that you did not intend to upset or hurt someone: I'm sorry, I didn't mean it - it was just a stupid thing to say. | I'm sure she didn't mean it, really.
22 RESULT IN STH (not in progressive) to have a particular result: The pit closures will mean a large rise in unemployment. | mean (that): His injury meant that he could no longer continue work.
23 that doesn't mean used to say that something is not definitely true, or is not definitely going to happen, even though it may seem to be true because of something else you have mentioned: Just because he's been in prison that doesn't mean he's some kind of violent criminal.
24 INVOLVE DOING STH (not in progressive) to involve having to do a particular thing: mean doing sth: I'm determined to solve this mystery even if it means traveling to New York myself.
25 SHOW STH IS TRUE/WILL HAPPEN (not in progressive) to be a sign that something is true or will happen: When the boss sends for me it usually means trouble. | mean (that): If the sky is red in the evening, it usually means it'll be fine the next day.
26 sth means a lot to sb used to say something is very important to someone: Her job means a lot to her. | sth means everything/the world to sb: Their grandchildren mean everything to them.
27 mean nothing to sb
a) to be unfamiliar to someone or impossible for them to understand: "Who's that message for?" "No idea. It means nothing to me."
b) to not be important to someone: Public honours mean nothing to her.
28 mean something/anything to sb
a) to be familiar to someone: Does the name 'Kanafani' mean anything to you?
b) to be important to someone: I spent years believing that I actually meant something to him.
29 be meant to do sth
a) if you are meant to do something, you should do it, especially because someone has told you to or because it is your responsibility: We're meant to write our names at the top of the paper. | I thought the police were meant to protect people.
b) to be intended to do something: The diagram is meant to show the different stages of the process.
30 be meant for to be intended for a particular person or purpose: These chairs are meant for guests.
31 sb was never meant for sth/to be sth used to say that someone is not at all suitable for a particular job or activity: I was never meant for the army.
32 be meant for each other if two people are meant for each other, they are very suitable as partners for each other: Monique and Didier were meant for each other.
33 sth was meant to be used to say that you think a situation was certain to happen and that no one had any power to prevent it: They met in August, and were married within a month, so I guess it was just meant to be.
34 know/understand what it means to be sth to have experienced a particular situation, so that you know what it is like: I understand your problems because I know what it means to be poor.
2 adjective
1 unkind or nasty: That was a mean thing to do.
(+ to): Don't be so mean to her!
2 BrE unwilling to spend any money or share what you have with other people; cheap 1 (6), stingy
(+ with): He's always been mean with his money.
3 especially AmE cruel and bad-tempered: That's a mean dog. Be careful it doesn't bite you.
4 no mean achievement/feat/task etc something that is very difficult to do, so that someone who does it deserves to be admired: Winning that competition was no mean feat.
5 be no mean performer/player etc to be very good at doing something: He was no mean batsman in those days.
6 AmE informal very good and skilful: She's one mean tennis-player. | Brock plays a mean game of poker.
7 (only before noun) technical average: the mean rate of consumption
8 (only before noun) literary poor or looking poor: these mean streets
9 (only before noun) old use belonging to a low social class: a man of mean birth
— meanly adverb — meanness noun (U) 3 noun
1 the mean technical the average amount, figure, or value: The mean of 7, 9 and 14 is 10.
2 the/a mean between sth and sth a method or way of doing something which is between two very different methods, and better than either of them: It's a case of finding the mean between firmness and compassion.
—see also: means

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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