Dictionary: MEAD – MEAN

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MEAD, n. [Sax. medo, medu, mead or wine; D. meede; G. meth; Dan. miöd; W. mez; Ir. miodh or meadh; Arm. mez. In Gr. μεθυ is wine, as is madja in Sanscrit, and medo in Zend. In Russ. med or meda is honey. If the word signifies primarily liquor in general, it may be allied to Gr. μυδαω, L. madeo, to be wet. But it may have had its name from honey.]

A fermented liquor consisting of honey and water, sometimes enriched with spices. Encyc.

MEAD, or MEAD'OW, n. [meed, or medo. Sax. mæde, mædewe; G. matte, a mat, and a meadow; Ir. madh. The sense is extended or flat depressed land. It is supposed that this word enters into the name Mediolanum, now Milan, in Italy; that is, mead-land.]

A tract of low land. In America, the word is applied particularly to the low ground on the banks of rivers, consisting of a rich mold or an alluvial soil, whether grass land, pasture, tillage or wood land; as, the meadows on the banks of the Connecticut. The word with us does not necessarily imply wet land. This species of land is called, in the western states, bottoms, or bottom-land. The word is also used for other low or flat lands, particularly lands appropriated to the culture of grass. The word is said to be applied in Great Britain to land somewhat watery, but covered with grass. Johnson. Meadow means pasture or grass land, annually mown for hay; but more particularly, land too moist for cattle to graze on in winter, without spoiling the sward. Encyc. Cyc. [Mead is used chiefly in poetry.]


In mineralogy, conchoidal bog iron ore. Ure.


A plant of the genus Thalictrum.


A plant of the genus Colchicum.


A plant of the genus Peucedanum.


A plant of the genus Spiraea.


A plant. Drayton.


Containing meadow. J. Barlow.

MEA-GER, a. [Fr. maigre; Sp. and It. magro; L. macer; D. G. Dan. and Sw. mager; Gr. μικκος, μικρος, μικρος, small; allied to Eng. meek; Ch. מאך, to be thin, to be depressed, to subdue; Heb. מוך, id. Class Mg, No. 2, 9, 10, 13.]

  1. Thin; lean; destitute of flesh or having little flesh; applied to animals. Meager were his looks, / Sharp misery had worn him to the bones. Shak.
  2. Poor; barren; destitute of richness, fertility, or any thing valuable; as, a meager soil; meager limestone. Journ. of Science.
  3. Barren; poor; wanting strength of diction, or richness of ideas or imagery, as, a meager style or composition; meager annals.

MEA-GER, v.t.

To make lean. [Not used.] Knolles.

MEA-GER-LY, adv.

Poorly; thinly.


  1. Leanness; want of flesh.
  2. Poorness; barrenness; want of fertility or richness.
  3. Scantiness; barrenness; as, the meagerness of service. Bacon.

MEAK, n.

A hook with a long handle. Tusser.

MEAL, n.1 [Sax. mæl, a part or portion; D. maal; G. mahl; probably from breaking. See the next word.]

  1. A portion of food taken at one time; a repast. It is customary in the United States to eat three meals in a day. The principal meal of our ancestors was dinner, at noon.
  2. A part; a fragment; in the word piece-meal.

MEAL, n.2 [Sax. mealewe, melewe; G. mehl; Sw. miöl; Dan. and D. meel; G. mehlicht, mealy, mellow; W. mâl, bruised, ground, smooth. This word seems to be allied to mill, L. mola, and to L. mollis, Eng. mellow. The radical sense is probably to break, comminute, or grind to fine particles, and hence the sense of softness; or the sense of softness may be from yielding or smoothness, and the verb may be from the noun.]

  1. The substance of edible grain ground to fine particles, and not bolted or sifted. Meal primarily, includes the bran as well as the flour. Since bolting has been generally practiced, the word meal is not generally applied to the finer part, or flour, at least in the United States, though I believe it is sometimes so used. In New England, meal is now usually applied to ground maiz, whether bolted or unbolted, called Indian meal or corn-meal. The words wheat-meal and rye-meal are rarely used, though not wholly extinct; and meal occurs also in oatmeal.
  2. Flour; the finer part of pulverized grain. [This sense is now uncommon.]

MEAL, v.t.

To sprinkle with meal, or to mix meal with. [Little used.]


The quality of being mealy; softness or smoothness to the touch.


A man that deals in meal.


The usual time of eating meals.

MEAL-Y, a.

  1. Having the qualities of meal; soft; smooth to the feel.
  2. Like meal; farinaceous; soft; dry and friable; as, a mealy potatoe; a mealy apple.
  3. Overspread with something that resembles meal; as, the mealy wings of an insect. Thomson.


Literally, having a soft mouth; hence, unwilling to tell the truth in plain language; inclined to speak of any thing in softer terms than the truth will warrant. L'Estrange.


Inclination to express the truth in soft words, or to disguise the plain fact; reluctance to tell the plain truth.

MEAN, a.1 [Sax. mæne, gemæne; the latter word signifies common, L. communis. Mean coincides in elements with Sax. mæneg, many, and the primary sense may be a crowd, like vulgar, from L. vulgus. If the primary sense is small, it coincides with Ir. mion, W. mân, or main, Fr. menu, It. meno, L. minor and minuo, to diminish; but I think the word belongs to the root of common. See Class Mn, No. 2 and 5.]

  1. Wanting dignity; low in rank or birth; as, a man of mean parentage, mean birth or origin.
  2. Wanting dignity of mind; low-minded; base; destitute of honor; spiritless. Can you imagine I so mean could prove, / To save my life by changing of my love? Dryden.
  3. Contemptible; despicable. The Roman legions and great Cesar found / Our fathers no mean foes. Philips.
  4. Of little value; low in worth or estimation; worthy of little or no regard. We fast, not to please men, nor to promote any mean worldly interest. Smalridge.
  5. Of little value; humble; poor; as, a mean abode; a mean dress.

MEAN, a.2 [Fr. moyen; Sp. and Port. mediano; L. medium, medius; Ir. meadhan. See Middle.]

  1. Middle; at an equal distance from the extremes; as the mean distance; the mean proportion between quantities; the mean ratio. According to the fittest style of lofty, mean, or lowly. Milton.
  2. Intervening; intermediate; coming between; as, in the mean time or while.