Dictionary: MEAN – MEAS-UR-A-BLE

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MEAN, n.

  1. The middle point or place; the middle rate or degree; mediocrity; medium. Observe the golden mean. There is a mean in all things. Dryden. But no authority of gods or men / Allow of any mean in poesy. Roscommon.
  2. Intervening time; interval of time; interim; meantime. And in the mean, vouchsafe her honorable tomb. Spenser. Here is an omission of time or while.
  3. Measure; regulation. [Not in use.] Spenser.
  4. Instrument; that which is used to effect an object; the medium through which something is done. The virtuous conversation of Christians was a mean to work the conversion of the heathen to Christ. Hooker. In this sense, means, in the plural, is generally used, and often with a definitive and verb in the singular. By this means he had them more at vantage. Bacon. A good character, when established, should not be rested on as an end, but employed as a means of doing good. Atterbury.
  5. Means, in the plural, income, revenue, resources, substance or estate, considered as the instrument of effecting any purpose. He would have built a house, but he wanted means. Your means are slender. Shak.
  6. Instrument of action or performance. By all means, without fail. Go, by all means. By no means, not at all; certainly not; not in any degree. The wine on this side of the lake is by no means so good as that on the other. Addison. By no manner of means, by no means; not the leant. Burke. By any means, possibly; at all. If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead. Phil. iii. Meantime, or Meanwhile, in the intervening time. [In this use of these words there is an omission of in or in the; in the meantime.]

MEAN, v.i.

To have thought or ideas; or to have meaning. Pope.

MEAN, v.t. [pret. and pp. meant; pronounced ment; Sax. m├Žnan, menan, to mean, to intend, also to relate, to recite or tell, also to moan, to lament; G. meinen; D. meenen; Sw. mena; Dan. meener, mener; Russ. mnyu, to think or believe; Ir. smuainim. It coincides in origin with L. mens, Eng. mind. The primary sense is to set or to thrust forward, to reach, stretch or extend. So in L. intendo, to stretch onward or toward, and propono, to propose, to set or put forward.]

  1. To have in the mind, view or contemplation; to intend. What mean you by this service? Exod. xii.
  2. To intend; to purpose; to design, with reference to a future act. Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it for good. Gen. 1.
  3. To signify; to indicate. What mean these seven ewe lambs. Gen. xxi. What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? 1 Sam. iv. Go ye, and learn what that meaneth. Matth. ix.

ME-AN'DER, n. [The name of a winding river in Phrygia.]

  1. A winding course; a winding or turning in a passage; as, the meanders of the veins and arteries. Hale. While lingering rivers in meanders glide. Blackmore.
  2. A maze; a labyrinth; perplexity; as, the meanders of the law. Arbuthnot.

ME-AN'DER, v.i.

To wind or turn in a course or passage; to be intricate. Shenstone.

ME-AN'DER, v.t.

To wind, turn or flow round; to make flexuous. Drayton.

ME-AN'DER-ING, ppr. [or a.]

Winding in a course, passage or current.


A genus of corals with meandering cells, as the brain-stone coral. Mantell.


Winding; having many turns.


Winding; flexuous. King.


  1. That which exists in the mind, view or contemplation as a settled aim or purpose, though not directly expressed. We say, this or that is not his meaning.
  2. Intention; purpose; aim; with reference to a future act. I am no honest man, if there be any good meaning toward you. Shak.
  3. Signification. What is the meaning of all this parade? The meaning of a hieroglyphic is not always obvious.
  4. The sense of words or expressions; that which is to be understood; signification; that which the writer or speaker intends to express or communicate. Words have a literal meaning, or a metaphorical meaning, and it is not always easy to ascertain the real meaning.
  5. Sense; power of thinking. [Little used.]

MEAN-ING, ppr.

Having in mind; intending; signifying.


Having no meaning.


Significantly; intendingly.

MEAN-LY, adv. [See Mean.]

  1. Moderately; not in a great degree. In the reign of Domitian, poetry was meanly cultivated. [Not used.] Dryden.
  2. Without dignity or rank; in a low condition; as, meanly born.
  3. Poorly; as, meanly dressed.
  4. Without greatness or elevation of mind; without honor; with a low mind or narrow views. He meanly declines to fulfill his promise. Would you meanly thus rely / On power, you know, I must obey? Prior.
  5. Without respect; disrespectfully. We can not bear to hear others speak meanly of our kindred.


  1. Want of dignity or rank; low state; as, meanness of birth or condition. Poverty is not always meanness; it may be connected with it, but men of dignified minds and manners are often poor.
  2. Want of excellence of any kind; poorness; rudeness. This figure is of a later date, by the meanness of the workmanship. Addison.
  3. Lowness of mind; want of dignity and elevation; want of honor. Meanness in men incurs contempt. All dishonesty is meanness.
  4. Sordidness; niggardliness; opposed to liberality or charitableness. Meanness is very different from frugality.
  5. Want of richness; poorness; as, the meanness of dress or equipage.


Having a mean spirit.

MEANT, v. [pret. and pp. of Mean.]

MEAR, a. [or n. or v. See MERE.]

MEASE, n. [from the root of measure.]

The quantity of 500; as, a mease of herrings. [Not used in America.]

MEA-SLE, n. [mee'zl.]

A leper. [Not in use.] Wickliffe.

MEA-SLED, a. [mee'zled. See Measles.]

Infected or spotted with measles.

MEA-SLES, n. [mee'zles; with a plural termination. G. maser, a spot; masig, measled; D. mazelen; from sprinkling or from mixing. Class Ms, No. 14, 15.]

  1. A contagious disease of the human body, usually characterized by a crimson rash upon the skin in stigmatized dots, grouped in irregular circles or crescents; appearing about the third day, and terminating about the seventh; preceded by symptoms like catarrh, and accompanied by a constitutional febrile affection, which is either a synochus, or an exquisite typhus.
  2. A disease of swine. B. Jonson.
  3. A disease of trees. Mortimer.

MEA-SLY, a. [mee'zly.]

Infected with measles or eruptions. Swift.

MEAS-UR-A-BLE, a. [mezh'urable. See Measure.]

  1. That may be measured; susceptible of mensuration or computation. Bentley.
  2. Moderate; in small quantity or extent.