Sense: 1-5, 7
Origin: Old English gemæne
Sense: 6
Date: 1300-1400
Language: Old French
Origin: meien, from Latin medianus; MEDIAN2


2 adjective
Related topics: Maths, Measurement
mean2 comparative meaner, superlative meanest


cruel or not kind:
That was a mean thing to do.
I felt a bit mean asking him to help.
It's a mean trick to play on someone.
It was mean of him not to invite her.
mean to
Don't be so mean to her!

not generous

British English not wanting to spend money, or not wanting to use much of something [= stingy; = cheap AmE]
He's too mean to buy a present for his wife.
mean with
He's always been mean with his money.
It was supposed to be garlic bread, but they'd been a bit mean with the garlic.

no mean feat/achievement/task etc

something that is very difficult to do, so that someone who does it deserves to be admired:
They sold 1 million cards in the first year of business - no mean feat, given the problems many businesses are facing.

be no mean performer/player etc

to be very good at doing something:
Kinnock is no mean performer on the rugby field.

a mean something

informal used to say that something is very good or that someone is very good at doing something:
He plays a mean game of poker.
They serve a mean Sunday brunch at the restaurant on Fourth Street.


[only before noun] technicalHM average:
The study involved 60 patients with a mean age of 58.2 years.
The mean annual rainfall was 852 mm.


[only before noun] literary poor or looking poor:
She walked briskly through the mean and dirty streets.
meanly adverb
meanness noun [uncountable]
WORD FOCUS: horrible WORD FOCUS: horrible
taste or smell: nasty, not very nice, revolting, disgusting, foul, unpleasant, gross informal

experience, situation, or feeling: nasty, not very nice, terrible, unpleasant

person: nasty, not very nice, obnoxious, mean American English, unpleasant, objectionable

See also
WORD FOCUS: unkind WORD FOCUS: unkind
similar words: nasty, cruel, mean, inconsiderate, thoughtless, insensitive, unsympathetic, hard-hearted

See also

Dictionary results for "mean"
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