Definition of means in English:


plural noun

  • 1[treated as singular or plural] An action or system by which a result is achieved; a method.

    ‘technology seen as a means to bring about emancipation’
    ‘resolving disputes by peaceful means’
    • ‘Manure management is the most effective means for fly control.’
    • ‘I would say half of an hour, but without a means of measuring time with me, I couldn't be sure.’
    • ‘Arts programs are one means of achieving that goal.’
    • ‘When the objective is recognized, a wide variety of well known techniques may be used as transitional or enduring means of achieving it.’
    • ‘The method provides a means of identifying and describing the ways the viewers fill the gaps in the text.’
    • ‘He offered to advise them about means of gaining assistance under the social welfare system.’
    • ‘Having a series of plant analysis results provides a means of evaluating these influences.’
    • ‘We are in the process of implementing new means of processing credit cards, a move that will result in both time and money savings for the association.’
    • ‘One effective means of improving the process is to request more than one reference.’
    • ‘Instruments can become indirect means of communication for autistic children.’
    • ‘He goes on to advise an effective means of achieving this goal.’
    • ‘And, it is stressed, it is far from the only means of achieving business objectives.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, following the announcement of the results the organizer cut every means of communication!’
    • ‘He took up the bass as a means of channeling his madcap intensity.’
    • ‘Thorough cleaning of all equipment from planting to delivery is one of the most important means of achieving this.’
    • ‘On that basis, buying back shares is just a means by which a company can distribute cash to its shareholders.’
    • ‘Holland also has developed a means of measuring each sales rep's forecasting prowess.’
    • ‘He is guilty of committing various immoral acts as a means of achieving power and importance.’
    • ‘To me it was just another medium, a means of transmitting things.’
    • ‘Its successor, the United Nations, also seeks to persuade member nations to solve their difference by peaceful means.’
    method, way, manner, mode, measure, fashion, process, procedure, technique, expedient, agency, medium, instrument, mechanism, channel, vehicle, avenue, course
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  • 2Financial resources; income.

    ‘a woman of modest but independent means’
    • ‘That way you will have the financial means whatever bill comes your way!’
    • ‘She has also received computers and 14 computer training facilities for families without the means.’
    money, resources, capital, income, finance, funds, cash, the wherewithal, assets
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    1. 2.1Substantial resources; wealth.
      ‘a man of means’
      • ‘You have had the means under your control for quite some time now.’
      wealth, riches, affluence, substance, fortune, property, money, capital, deep pockets
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    2. 2.2Resources; capability.
      ‘every country in the world has the means to make ethanol’
      • ‘Of course, American monetary and financial officials will continue to use every means at its disposal to thwart any such crash dynamics.’
      • ‘I highly recommend tracking it down if you have the means.’


  • beyond (or within) one's means

    • Beyond (or within) one's budget or income.

      ‘the government is living beyond its means’
      ‘a flat that was within her means’
      • ‘First of all they are going to help you set up a budget so you live within your means.’
      • ‘We're living within our means, rather than borrowing against the future.’
      • ‘And don't forget, you must live within your means and stay away from credit-card debt.’
      • ‘Without any insurance, the emergency room fee was far beyond her means.’
      • ‘Why can't people learn to live within their means?’
      • ‘Another important factor in playing the lottery is to play within your means.’
      • ‘Live within your means, they say, we can't bail you out forever.’
      • ‘It's not always about living beyond your means.’
      • ‘‘I live within my means,’ she says with a quiet laugh.’
      • ‘They live rather well within their means, evidently.’
  • by all means

    • Of course; certainly (granting a permission)

      ‘‘May I make a suggestion?’ ‘By all means.’’
      • ‘If this is something that interests you, then by all means go for it.’
      • ‘Although, if you don't mind paying a little more, by all means, pick it up.’
      • ‘Telephone, have a talk by all means but exclude me from arrangements.’
      • ‘If it sounds like your sort of thing, then, by all means, check it out.’
      • ‘I am not against this practice, and if you think it will help you, by all means, write your goals down and hang them up.’
      • ‘If you have any thoughts about this, by all means, start a discussion thread, and let us know.’
      • ‘If you think you know of one who might be interested, then by all means, please tell me.’
      • ‘But by all means, do play the game as it is quite addictive and takes an innovative approach to commanding your team members.’
      • ‘If writing is not your forte, by all means, have it done for you.’
      • ‘If you have never seen this movie, by all means rent this disc.’
      of course, certainly, definitely, surely, absolutely, naturally, with pleasure, assuredly
      sure thing
      certainly, indeed, of course, definitely, without doubt, without a doubt, without question, unquestionably
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  • by any means

    • [with negative]In any way; at all.

      ‘I'm not poor by any means’
      • ‘He didn't drive slowly by any means, but he didn't try to impress people with his horsepower.’
      • ‘Watering the garden plants is not an easy job, by any means.’
      • ‘Indonesian trade with Australia is convenient, but not critical by any means.’
      • ‘We have not proven that by any means, and it is not a trivial assumption.’
      • ‘The graphics are good and clean, but they are not stunning by any means.’
      • ‘Don't get me wrong, they aren't terrible by any means but are just not overly impressive.’
      • ‘The film doesn't purport to be a documentary by any means.’
      • ‘It is not a well thought out performance by any means.’
      • ‘This is not essential by any means, but it can help in certain projects.’
      • ‘It wasn't glamorous by any means, but it was all so new and exciting to me.’
  • by means of

    • With the help of; by using.

      ‘supplying water to cities by means of aqueducts’
      • ‘Withdrawal of cash is further effected by means of encoded plastic cards utilized at computer terminals.’
      • ‘Organizations exist by means of and as a result of these interactions.’
      • ‘The farmhouse is connected at right angles to the restaurant by means of a large utility room which then leads on to a full catering kitchen.’
      • ‘At their tops, these vertical elements were joined to horizontal ones by means of brass couplings.’
      • ‘Man had learned to irrigate the land by means of canals and ditches, and had mastered the arts of agriculture.’
      • ‘The places of ascent or descent are reached by means of stairways.’
      • ‘The wall and roof glazing is suspended under the external steel structure by means of point fixings.’
      • ‘He cautiously went inside by means of a small side door.’
      • ‘As planned, I left the town by means of the Jeep just at the crack of dawn.’
      • ‘He sought to depict the inner reality of objects by means of meticulous physical observations.’
      using, utilizing, employing, through, with the help of, with the aid of, as a result of, by dint of, by way of, by virtue of, via
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  • by no means

    • Not at all; certainly not.

      ‘the outcome is by no means guaranteed’
      • ‘She may now have become a thief, but she was by no means ready to become a murderer.’
      • ‘Although this room is by no means small, a large wall mirror creates the illusion of even greater space.’
      • ‘This is by no means merely a technology issue and the jury is still out.’
      • ‘What is going on is by no means clear to Christian, and he is increasingly anxious.’
      • ‘That is by no means an accurate statement, but it has a grain of truth.’
      • ‘I saw it last week, and enjoyed it, but it's by no means even close to being the best film of 2002.’
      • ‘Katherine laughed with her, but she was by no means as confident as Carrie.’
      • ‘Although the sums paid are by no means small, they are a far cry from what the jet set pay across the water.’
      • ‘These are by no means mutually exclusive categories and many analyses will fall into both categories.’
      • ‘It was by no means a foregone conclusion that the UK would get involved.’
      not at all, in no way, not in the least, not in the slightest, not the least bit, not by a long shot, certainly not, absolutely not, definitely not, on no account, under no circumstances
      not by a long chalk
      no way
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  • means of grace

    • The sacraments and other religious agencies viewed as the means by which divine grace is imparted to the soul, or by which growth in grace is promoted.

  • a means to an end

    • A thing that is not valued or important in itself but is useful in achieving an aim.

      ‘higher education was seen primarily as a means to an end’
      • ‘However, it must be used as a means to an end and not the end itself.’
      • ‘‘It's a means to an end,’ she said as she turned a corner around the stairs.’
      • ‘So advertising is only a means to an end - if an alternative method existed to increase the reputation of the product, it would also serve the seller's purpose.’
      • ‘We view our technology as a means to an end, and the end is always to deliver business value.’
      • ‘Money is only a means to an end - it is fuel for my projects.’
      • ‘‘I don't think much of gaming,’ says Morgan, ‘but it was a means to an end.’’
      • ‘Small talk is all about social connection; the content is a means to an end.’
      • ‘Grants are a means to an end, and allow a faculty member to hire students or technicians and conduct research.’
      • ‘But remember that they are just a means to an end.’
      • ‘It's a means to an end, and I have to go to practice.’


Late Middle English: plural of mean, the early sense being intermediary.