mean#

mean#
mean adj Mean, ignoble, abject, sordid can all be applied to persons, their behavior, or the conditions in which they live with the meaning so low as to be out of keeping with human dignity or generally acceptable standards of human life or character.
Mean usually suggests such repellent antisocial characteristics as malevolence or cupidity. It almost invariably connotes small-mindedness
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those who are tempted by the flesh have usually nothing to fear from avarice or the meaner vices— Mackenzie

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her father is a decidedly vulgar person, mean in his ideals and obtuse in his manners— Erskine

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Often mean implies conduct or an attitude that is detestable and unworthy of a human being
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Delane . . . flung him off like a thing too mean for human handling— Wharton

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now and then in his pages war flashes out in romantic or heroic episodes, but for the most part it is mean and degrading, a thing to be hated— Parrington

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Ignoble, like its opposite noble, usually implies qualities of mind or soul. It frequently comes close to mean except that it seldom connotes small- mindedness. Its distinguishing implication is loss or lack of some essential high quality (as spiritual elevation, moral dignity, or intellectual excellence)
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to see how those he has converted distort and debase and make ignoble parodies of his teaching— Huxley

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these are . . . as low and ignoble, as gutter-fallen and dispiriting, as can only be found in the gloomier literature of imperial Russia— J. M. Brown

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Abject, in its most inclusive sense, means little more than extremely low in station or in degree
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had not that fear of beautiful and rich things which renders abject people incapable of associating costliness with comfort— Shaw

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Sometimes it is merely an intensive applied to something that is itself low in the scale
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the wars and their changing fortunes, which made abject ruin and undreamt-of power occurrences of every day— L. G. Deruisseau

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In discriminative use, however, abject carries the implication of being cast down and so variously implies abasement, debasement, or contemptible servility
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disgrace not so your king, that he should be so abject, base, and poor, to choose for wealth and not for perfect love— Shak.

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resolved to be a man who . . . would live no longer in subjection to the past with abject mind— Wordsworth

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the stagnation and the squalor that are the abject human realities left by the ebb of power and splendor— Edmund Wilson

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Sordid emphasizes the degrading baseness associated with physical or mental corruption
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the counterrevolution . . . ranks among the most sordid periods in Chinese history. Compromise, blackmail and treachery mark the pages devoted to this episode— Lasker

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books filled with sordid, filthy statements based on sexual deviations— U.S. House of Representatives Report

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Analogous words: *base, low, vile: *contemptible, despicable, sorry, scurvy, cheap, beggarly, shabby, pitiable
mean vb
1 *intend, design, propose, purpose
Analogous words: wish, want, *desire: *aim, aspire, pant
2 Mean, denote, signify, import are comparable when they mean to convey to the mind a definite idea or interpretation. Not only words or phrases can be said to mean, denote, signify, or import something, but also whatever admits of interpretation or of being intellectually appraised (as a poem or an essay or an act of Congress, or the behavior of one person to another, or a set of circumstances). These words are commonly employed without distinction, but precision in their use is often possible and desirable.
In their general application mean is the most common; it is often more expressive or poignant than the others when used to connote not only interpretation but also evaluation or appraisal
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he can have no idea of what it means to be the daughter of Mr. de Barral— Conrad

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national prosperity . . . has two surfaces: ability to sell means ability to buy; employment means production— Benedict

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Denote, in its widest application, is distinguished from the others by its taking for its subject things that serve as outward marks or visible indications; signify, by its taking for its subject things of a symbolic or representative character
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his somber expression denoted a worried mind

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slumped into a chair near the doorway, his posture denoting complete exhaustion— Douglas

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the scales in the hands of the figure of Justice signify impartiality

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the Eucharistic rite signifies one thing to Protestants and another to Catholics

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the "&c." signified that portion of King Henry's title . . . which, for the sake of brevity, was not written in full— Maitland

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Signify often suggests distinctiveness or importance
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events which signify little at the time of occurrence often attain significance when the history of that period is written

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I did not understand that I was living in a debtor land, nor what that signifiedWhite

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Import frequently conveys an implication of carrying into the mind
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new ideas import little to those not intellectually fitted to receive them

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but it frequently comes close to signify
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what this imported I could ill divine— Wordsworth

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it imports little whether the sensible citizen is a Democrat or a Republican, an Episcopalian or a Presbyterian; it imports a good deal whether he is nationalist or internationalist— Gerould

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In their special use in reference to the interpretation of the content of a term, these words are not always distinguishable.
Mean, however, is capable of implying reference to the term's full content, that is, to the idea or relation between ideas which it conveys to the mind and the suggestions which it evokes
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only a philosophically minded person can grasp what beauty and truth mean in Keats's lines "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

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Signify can, as mean usually does not, suggest symbolic relationship between the term and the idea it conveys
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the phrase "bread and butter" signifies the material needs of life

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Denote (see also DENOTE 2) can imply a logical definition in which the idea named or expressed by a term is clearly marked out and its application or range of application accurately determined
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"decoration" denotes one of three ideas, the act of adorning, or a thing used in adorning, or the results achieved by one who adorns

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Import, used with less frequency in relation to terms, is precise in its implications. A term imports not what it denotes, or bears as a definition, but any or all of the implications involved in its interpretation
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does it [the word "necessary"] always import an absolute physical necessity . . . 1—John Marshall

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Analogous words: *carry, convey, bear, transmit: *denote, connote: define, assign, *prescribe: *suggest, imply, intimate, hint

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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  • Mean — Mean, a. [OE. mene, OF. meiien, F. moyen, fr. L. medianus that is in the middle, fr. medius; akin to E. mid. See {Mid}.] 1. Occupying a middle position; middle; being about midway between extremes. [1913 Webster] Being of middle age and a mean… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • Mean — Mean, n. 1. That which is mean, or intermediate, between two extremes of place, time, or number; the middle point or place; middle rate or degree; mediocrity; medium; absence of extremes or excess; moderation; measure. [1913 Webster] But to speak …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mean — mean1 [mēn] vt. meant [ment] meaning [ME menen < OE mænan, to mean, tell, complain, akin to Ger meinen, to have in mind, have as opinion < IE base * meino , opinion, intent > OIr mian, wish, desire] 1. to have in mind; intend; purpose… …   English World dictionary

  • Mean — (m[=e]n), a. [Compar. {Meaner} (m[=e]n [ e]r); superl. {Meanest}.] [OE. mene, AS. m[=ae]ne wicked; akin to m[=a]n, a., wicked, n., wickedness, OS. m[=e]n wickedness, OHG. mein, G. meineid perjury, Icel. mein harm, hurt, and perh. to AS.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mean — 1. In the meaning ‘to intend’, mean can be followed by a to infinitive (when the speaker intends to do something: I meant to go), by an object + to infinitive (when the speaker intends someone else to do something: I meant you to go) and, more… …   Modern English usage

  • Méan — (homonymie) Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom.  France Méan est une ancienne commune française de la Loire Atlantique, aujourd hui intégrée à Saint Nazaire …   Wikipédia en Français

  • mean — Ⅰ. mean [1] ► VERB (past and past part. meant) 1) intend to express or refer to. 2) (of a word) have as its explanation in the same language or its equivalent in another language. 3) intend to occur or be the case. 4) have as a consequence. 5) …   English terms dictionary

  • Mean — (m[=e]n), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Meant} (m[e^]nt); p. pr. & vb. n. {Meaning}.] [OE. menen, AS. m[=ae]nan to recite, tell, intend, wish; akin to OS. m[=e]nian to have in mind, mean, D. meenen, G. meinen, OHG. meinan, Icel. meina, Sw. mena, Dan. mene …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mean — [adj1] ungenerous close, greedy, mercenary, mingy, miserly, niggard, parsimonious, penny pinching*, penurious, rapacious, scrimpy, selfish, stingy, tight, tight fisted*; concept 334 Ant. generous, kind, unselfish mean [adj2] hostile, rude bad… …   New thesaurus

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