mean (something) by (something)

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mean (something) by (something)

To have some hidden or ulterior meaning, judgment, or intention behind one's words or actions. Often used in questions and negative constructions. I didn't mean anything by what I said—I was just making an observation about your clothes, that's all! A: "It's not bad, for someone like you." B: "Hey, what do you mean by that?"
See also: by, mean
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

mean by something

to intend a certain meaning by words or deeds. What do you mean by that? I did not mean anything special by my remarks.
See also: by, mean
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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