Definition of meanness in English:



  • 1British Lack of generosity; miserliness.

    • ‘Kidman's thriftiness was sometimes interpreted as meanness, but while he sacked employees for trivial waste, he was generous enough to donate properties and money to charitable causes.’
    • ‘Scots meanness was actually invented by a Scot, the comedian Harry Lauder; before him, Highland hospitality was a universally used phrase meaning generosity.’
    • ‘The Holyrood project has scuppered Scotland's reputation for meanness - perhaps a Minister for Frugality is needed or a Department of Thrift.’
    • ‘As well as provoking mirth, the alleged meanness of Scots is also a powerful marketing tool.’
    • ‘McMaster has been very successful in off-setting the meanness of the public purse by extending sponsorship and gifts to the present 28% of income.’
    • ‘Nothing but meanness is stopping us having homes like the Jetsons.’
    • ‘He has written to the Berlin-based national association of advertising agencies telling them their obsession with Scottish meanness is damaging.’
    • ‘He censures the cruelty of slave masters, the dodges of legacy hunters, and the meanness of the wealthy, but the targets of his criticisms are normally anonymous.’
    • ‘It belies the myth of Scottish meanness, eh, what with that and Ken's generous lift the previous night.’
    miserliness, niggardliness, close-fistedness, parsimony, parsimoniousness, penny-pinching, cheese-paring, penury, illiberality, greed, avarice, acquisitiveness
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  • 2Unkindness, spitefulness, or unfairness.

    ‘all the hatred and meanness, despair and sorrow surrounding us’
    • ‘If you want the goodness, of which there is much, you have to put up with the meanness, of which there is much.’
    • ‘The domestic theatre is her strength, her writer's eye picking out the daily victories, everyday meanness, with sensitivity and sympathy.’
    • ‘But prayer as a means to effect a private end is meanness and theft.’
    • ‘Most of the time meanness is more dangerous than civilized standards.’
    • ‘Scrooge has been immortalised in the English language as the epitome of miserliness and meanness of spirit.’
    • ‘All of history's great leaders have been narcissistic; in combination with generosity of spirit, you get Lincoln; in combination with meanness of spirit, you get Henry VIII.’
    • ‘The awareness of their individual blemishes and shortcomings inclines the frustrated to detect ill will and meanness in their fellow men.’
    • ‘There were threats, and he would come home crying about all the meanness in the world.’
    • ‘I stand shoulder to shoulder with all denouncers of meanness.’
    • ‘I can imagine how I must have felt as that little girl, being introduced to the world of unfairness and meanness that can abound.’
    • ‘The same apprehensions, in every situation, regulate his notions of meanness or of dignity.’
    • ‘Its most malign expression is meanness and luridness that, so mendaciously, pretends to be fierce truth holding up a mirror to meanness and luridness.’
    • ‘It allows deep significance to be read into mediocrity, vacuity, cheapness, meanness.’
    nastiness, mean-spiritedness, spitefulness, disagreeableness, unpleasantness, unkindness
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    1. 2.1North American Aggressive character; viciousness.
      ‘he is also callous, with a streak of meanness’
      • ‘Too bad his son inherited his mother's virtues of pettiness and badger-like meanness.’
      • ‘And yet she couldn't remember one time when he had aimed that crankiness or meanness at her.’
      • ‘Unable to find the meanness in themselves to give it zero stars, movie critics cling to the illusion that there must be something good about it.’
      • ‘Certain jobs almost call for meanness: prison guard, Marine drill sergeant, movie reviewer.’
      • ‘The women might have been sweet but they could also whip out a streak of meanness just to put the man in place.’
      • ‘She looked for light of injury in his eyes, or delicate meanness rising up against her, but she saw nothing.’
      • ‘Even in relationship to his own soldiers, there is nothing at the core of this man but visceral meanness.’
      • ‘I say this not out of hatred or meanness.’
      • ‘Junior high is a particular challenge socially and prime time for bullies to ply their special brand of meanness.’
      • ‘Don't get me wrong; there are some good times, but the meanness tells me I should get away from him.’
      • ‘I was looking forward to seeing him go after these two nasty gals in a free-for-all of meanness.’
      • ‘She said this without a hint of meanness, without the slightest sarcasm.’
      • ‘He just seems to bring out the meanness in them.’
      • ‘He manages his household with a mind free from the taint of meanness.’
      • ‘Gradually, his neighbors become increasingly hostile and the small talk takes on an undercurrent of meanness.’
      • ‘Pure meanness is highly valued in Caesar's legions.’
      • ‘He chuckled at that bit of nonsense, and said, "You don't think what she's done to you merits a little meanness?"’
      • ‘Mom's criticism might be a sign of her meanness, for instance, but it could also be an awkward expression of her love.’
      • ‘The Islanders have added enough grit and meanness to make them a formidably physical opponent.’
      • ‘I want to show the level of meanness people are capable of.’
  • 3Lack of quality or attractiveness; shabbiness.

    ‘the meanness of that existence’
    • ‘Even in her shock, she was appalled by the meanness of the men's living conditions.’
    • ‘In Iraq, the distinction between wheaten and barley bread is identical to that in Europe: it is synonymous with poverty or meanness.’
    • ‘She struggles with the poverty and meanness of her surroundings to keep herself and her family 'respectable' and is determined that her boys will not become miners.’
    squalor, squalidness, shabbiness, dilapidation, sordidness, seediness, sleaziness, insalubriousness, wretchedness, dismalness, dinginess, poverty
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