Etymology: Middle English menen, from Old English mǣnan; akin to Old High German meinen to have in mind, Old Church Slavic měniti to mention
Date: before 12th century
a. to have in the mind as a purpose ; intend <she means to win> — sometimes used interjectionally with I, chiefly in informal speech for emphasis <he throws, I mean, hard> or to introduce a phrase restating the point of a preceding phrase <we try to answer what we can, but I mean we're not God — Bobbie Ann Mason> b. to design for or destine to a specified purpose or future <I was meant to teach> 2. to serve or intend to convey, show, or indicate ; signify <a red sky means rain> 3. to have importance to the degree of <health means everything> 4. to direct to a particular individual intransitive verb to have an intended purpose <he means well> • meaner noun II. adjective Etymology: Middle English mene, from imene common, shared, from Old English gemǣne; akin to Old High German gimeini common, Latin communis common, munus service, gift, Sanskrit mayate he exchanges Date: 14th century 1. lacking distinction or eminence ; humble 2. lacking in mental discrimination ; dull 3. a. of poor shabby inferior quality or status <mean city streets> b. worthy of little regard ; contemptible — often used in negative constructions as a term of praise <no mean feat> 4. lacking dignity or honor ; base 5. a. penurious, stingy b. characterized by petty selfishness or malice c. causing trouble or bother ; vexatious d. excellent, effective <plays a mean trumpet> <a lean, mean athlete> 6. ashamed 1b • meanness noun Synonyms: mean, ignoble, abject, sordid mean being below the normal standards of human decency and dignity. mean suggests having such repellent characteristics as small-mindedness, ill temper, or cupidity <mean and petty satire>. ignoble suggests a loss or lack of some essential high quality of mind or spirit <an ignoble scramble after material possessions>. abject may imply degradation, debasement, or servility <abject poverty>. sordid is stronger than all of these in stressing physical or spiritual degradation and abjectness <a sordid story of murder and revenge>. III. adjective Etymology: Middle English mene, from Anglo-French mene, meiene, from Latin medianus — more at median Date: 14th century 1. occupying a middle position ; intermediate in space, order, time, kind, or degree 2. occupying a position about midway between extremes; especially being the mean of a set of values ; average <the mean temperature> 3. serving as a means ; intermediary Synonyms: see average IV. noun Date: 14th century 1. a. (1) something intervening or intermediate (2) a middle point between extremes b. a value that lies within a range of values and is computed according to a prescribed law: as (1) arithmetic mean (2) expected value c. either of the middle two terms of a proportion 2. plural but singular or plural in construction something useful or helpful to a desired end 3. plural resources available for disposal; especially material resources affording a secure life
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.