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mean - definition and synonyms

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verb [transitive]     mean pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
present tense
present participlemeaning
past tensemeant
past participlemeant
  1. 1
    to have a particular meaning

    The word means something different in French.

    What doespulchritude’ mean?

    mean something by something:

    Everything depends on what you mean by the wordfree’.

    Synonyms and related words
    1. a.
      to communicate a particular meaning, feeling, or piece of information

      When you shake your head it usually means ‘no’.

      For most people, Paris means romance.

      His behaviour doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like you.

      take something to mean something (=understand it to have a particular meaning):

      I took their silence to mean disapproval.

      Synonyms and related words
    2. b.
      to be evidence that something exists

      That dark patch means that water is coming in.

      The look on her face meant only one thing – trouble.

  2. 2
    to intend something bad or harmful
    mean someone something:

    I know they didn’t mean our family any disrespect.

    mean someone harm (=intend to harm them):

    She had never meant him any real harm.

    1. a.
      to intend to do something, often something bad or wrong
      mean to do something:

      Whoops! I didn’t mean to step on your toe.

      I mean to leave that meeting with a new contract.

    2. b.
      to want someone to do something, or to want something to happen to someone
      mean someone to do something:

      It was our secret – I didn’t mean you to tell him.

      We didn’t mean you to lose your job.

      Synonyms and related words
    3. c.
      to say something with a particular intention
      mean something as a joke/compliment/insult:

      Don’t be offended: she meant it as a compliment.

      Synonyms and related words
  3. 3
    to make something necessary, or to make it happen
    something means doing something:

    The new agreement means accepting lower wages.

    This development could mean that the lawsuit will be dropped.

  4. 4
    to refer to someone or something when you are talking, looking, pointing etc at them

    No, I don’t mean her – I mean the tall woman.

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