20 / 04 / 2004

MEAN: meaning and examples

Good morning.

Today's word is: Mean

In reality, we'll look at two words today: the adjective mean and the verb to mean.

I use this verb almost everyday in the Daily Vitamin. It means to have or communicate a particular meaning. (Meaning is the noun equivalent of this verb. So actually we'll look at 3 words today.)

This adjective has different meanings, two of the most common are:

1) Cruel (especially in the US)
2) Cheap or not willing to spend money (especially in the UK)

Example 1
When I was a child I didn't like taking piano lessons because my teacher was very mean; he constantly criticised me when I made mistakes.

Example 2
Jim is so mean! I asked him to lend me a Euro for the bus and he refused.

In general (although not always) if you hear an American use the adjective mean, he/she is probably using the first meaning (Example 1). If you hear someone from Britain use the word mean, he/she probably means cheap (Example 2).

If you still don't know what these words mean, please write a comment in the space below. I'm not a mean person (Example 1); I promise to answer your questions. ;-)

Have an excellent day!