Mean 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. gem[=ae]ne common, general, D. gemeen, G. gemein, Goth. gam['a]ins, and L. communis. The AS. gem[=ae]ne prob. influenced the meaning.] [1913 Webster] 1. Destitute of distinction or eminence; common; low; vulgar; humble. ``Of mean parentage.'' --Sir P. Sidney. [1913 Webster]

The mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself. --Is. ii. 9. [1913 Webster]

2. Wanting dignity of mind; low-minded; base; destitute of honor; spiritless; as, a mean motive. [1913 Webster]

Can you imagine I so mean could prove, To save my life by changing of my love ? --Dryden. [1913 Webster]

3. Of little value or account; worthy of little or no regard; contemptible; despicable. [1913 Webster]

The Roman legions and great C[ae]sar found Our fathers no mean foes. --J. Philips. [1913 Webster]

4. Of poor quality; as, mean fare. [1913 Webster]

5. Penurious; stingy; close-fisted; illiberal; as, mean hospitality. [1913 Webster]

Note: Mean is sometimes used in the formation of compounds, the sense of which is obvious without explanation; as, meanborn, mean-looking, etc. [1913 Webster]

Syn: Base; ignoble; abject; beggarly; wretched; degraded; degenerate; vulgar; vile; servile; menial; spiritless; groveling; slavish; dishonorable; disgraceful; shameful; despicable; contemptible; paltry; sordid. See {Base}. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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