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not know the meaning of the word
To be completely without the particular quality, trait, or characteristic that is being described. Integrity? Ha! John doesn't know the meaning of the word! Oh please, Janet, you don't know the meaning of the word "poor."
To have good intentions. The phrase implies that despite such intentions, one is inept, unhelpful, or a nuisance. Gerri means well, but honestly she usually just ends up getting in the way when we're trying to do work.
To be grave and resolute; to be serious about what one is promising or proposing to do. Mom sounded like she means business, so you better clean your room.
mean (something) for the best
To intend for one's actions to produce a positive outcome. I meant that for the best—I really wasn't trying to hurt your feelings.
get (one's) meaning
To understand the meaning, insinuation, or implication of what one is saying. All I'm saying is that I won't be very sad if she breaks up with her boyfriend, if you get my meaning. A: "I want him taken care of—he's become too much of a liability." B: "I think I get your meaning."
mean to say
To intend to say; to really mean. Sorry, what I meant to say was that I'll be 30 minutes late, not early. Do you mean to say that we made even less money this quarter?
pregnant with (something)
Full of, or fraught with, or having a lot of something. Just before naming the guilty party, he gave a pause that seemed pregnant with meaning, and I wondered whether he was telling me the truth. Her speech was pregnant with emotion, and her eyes brimmed with tears as she spoke.
See also: pregnant
mean to (do something)
To have the intention, desire, or obligation to do something. I've been meaning to see that new movie everyone is talking about. A: "Did you mow the lawn?" B: "No, I meant to do it yesterday, but I ran out of time."
mean (something) as (something else)
To have a particular meaning or intention when saying or doing something. Often used in negative constructions. I didn't mean that as an insult—on the contrary, I meant it as a compliment! I don't think he meant it as a snub to you when he turned his back like that. I think he just wasn't thinking about how it would come across.
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?"
1. To intend for something to be received, heard, or understood by a particular person. A noun or pronoun can be used between "mean" and "for"; often used in passive constructions. Sorry, my question was actually meant for Mrs. Roberts. I never meant those criticisms for you! You ate them all? But those cookies were meant for the children!
2. To be of importance, significance, or worth to one. A noun or pronoun can be used between "mean" and "for." It's hard to quantify what this amazing gift means for our community, but suffice to say that it will change many lives for the better. Criticism like that doesn't mean anything for me.
mean to (one)
To be of importance, significance, or worth to one. A noun or pronoun can be used between "mean" and "to." It's hard to quantify what this amazing gift means to our community, but suffice to say that it will change many lives for the better. Criticism like that doesn't mean anything to me—I just let it roll off me like water off a duck's back.
mean no offense
To not imply or intend any offensive meaning in what one says or does. Usually used in the past tense. I truly meant no offense by what I said—I was just making a literal observation about your clothes, that's all! I'm sure you meant no offense, but just consider for a moment how someone might interpret what you said.
1. Literally, to have no discernible meaning to someone; to be incomprehensible (to someone). Could you just tell me in plain English? All that technical jargon means nothing to me. Without the right decoding software, you'll just be left with a document full of random characters that mean nothing.
2. To be completely insignificant or trivial (to someone). All your projections mean nothing if we can't turn them into actual sales. It was just a stupid one-time hookup, I swear—he meant nothing to me!
take on (a) new meaning
To become suddenly more meaningful; to be suddenly able to be interpreted or understood in a different and significant way. Her words took on a new meaning when I realized that she was the daughter of a billionaire. I found that the movie really took on new meaning for me after I became a parent.
to be very, very serious. Stop laughing! I mean business. I could tell from the look on her face that she meant business.
mean no offense
not to intend to offend. (See also take no offense.) I'm really sorry. I meant no offense. It was simply a slip of the tongue. He meant no offense by it.
mean nothing(to someone)
1. not to make sense to someone. This sentence means nothing to me. It isn't clearly written. I'm sorry. This message means nothing.
2. [for someone] not to have feeling for someone or something. Do I mean nothing to you after all these years? Do all those years of devotion mean nothing?
mean something for someone or something
1. Lit. to imply something important for someone or something; to be important or meaningful for someone or something. Are your comments supposed to mean something special for me? I mean these remarks for the government.
2. Fig. to intend for someone or something to have or receive something. Do you mean this gift for me? I mean this gift for the entire community.
to intend to be nice, polite, helpful, etc., but fail in the effort. I know you mean well, but your comments are sort of insulting.
take on a new significanceand take on a new meaning
[for an event] to acquire a new interpretation; [for something] to become more meaningful or more significant. All these monuments take on a new meaning when you realize the amount of human artistry and skill it took to design and build them.
Be in earnest. For example, He really means business with this deadline. This idiom uses business in the sense of "a serious endeavor." [Mid-1800s]
COMMON If you mean business, you are serious and determined about what you are doing. One of them poked a shotgun at me. I could see he meant business. Now, in the wake of the student-led demonstrations, the party is trying to convince people it means business.
not know the meaning of the word
If you mention a word and say that someone doesn't know the meaning of the word, you mean that they do not have a particular quality or have never done or experienced a particular thing. Love? He doesn't know the meaning of the word! Ruthie was an optimist; she didn't even know the meaning of the word depression. Note: Nouns such as phrase and term are sometimes used instead of word. Patrick doesn't know the meaning of the phrase `speed limit'.
mean businessbe in earnest.
1992 New York Times The protest is a matter of principle…and also a necessary act of assertiveness by the delegates to show they mean business.
mean to sayreally admit or intend to say.
1977 Jennifer Johnston Shadows on our Skin I mean to say, Joe Logan , where are you if you can't resist putting a small white tube of poison into your mouth every half an hour?
not know the meaning of the wordbehave as if unaware of the concept referred to or implied. informal
not know the ˈmeaning of the word(disapproving) not have enough experience of something to understand what it really is; not be capable of really understanding something: Love? He doesn’t know the meaning of the word. ♢ They talk about justice, but they don’t know the meaning of the word.
mean ˈbusiness(informal) be serious about what you plan to do; be determined: He means business. If we try to escape, he’ll shoot us. ♢ I’m not joking. This time I really mean business.
mean to ˈsayused to emphasize what you are saying or to ask somebody if they really mean what they say: I mean to say, you should have known how he would react! ♢ Do you mean to say you’ve lost it?
ˈmean well(usually disapproving) have good intentions, although their effect may not be good: Your father means well, I know, but I wish he’d stop telling us what to do. ♢ She’s always suggesting ways I could improve my cooking. I know she means well but it really annoys me. ▶ ˌwell-ˈmeaning adj.: She’s very well-meaning, but she only makes the situation worse.
get somebody’s ˈmeaning(informal) understand what somebody is really saying: I get your meaning. You don’t need to say any more.
tv. to be very, very serious. Stop laughing! I mean business.
To be in earnest.