Definition of meaning in US English:



  • 1What is meant by a word, text, concept, or action.

    ‘the meaning of the word “supermarket”’
    ‘it was as if time had lost all meaning’
    • ‘Some words are spelled the same as or very close to other words with different meanings.’
    • ‘They also help communicate, in a fundamental way, the very meaning of the work.’
    • ‘The author often employs qualitative terms without explaining their meaning.’
    • ‘Possible meanings of words contribute to the meaning of an utterance, which is an act by a speaker.’
    • ‘He thinks about the way one word can have two completely different meanings.’
    • ‘According to Indian linguistics, when we hear words, we do not decode the meaning intended by the speaker.’
    • ‘Surely we can imagine other meanings and contexts for these words.’
    • ‘He was an intensely charismatic actor and conveyed the meanings of words as dramatically and sensitively as the music.’
    • ‘No one could predict them or perhaps even properly understand their meanings.’
    • ‘These picture puzzles depended, like puns, on the assonance of words that have different meanings.’
    • ‘A principio can mean both ‘in the beginning’ and ‘from the beginning’, and the double meaning is significant.’
    • ‘Perhaps even more ironic was our conversation about names and their meanings.’
    • ‘In language, intonation is an important source of meaning.’
    • ‘Erik faced his friend and scrutinized him for hidden meanings behind his words.’
    • ‘Clues abound, but definitive meaning is elusive.’
    • ‘On first reading one may not understand all the meanings within a poem, but one can appreciate its rhythms and imagery.’
    • ‘Slowly, I begin to pick up a few words and try to memorize their meanings.’
    • ‘Many of us didn't understand their meanings, but sang them all the same.’
    • ‘There were many meanings in his words, and all of them made me second guess the truths I had known all my life.’
    • ‘The average reader does not need a glossary for the meanings of all such words, for they are clearly elicited in the context.’
    definition, sense, explanation, denotation, connotation, interpretation, elucidation, explication
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    1. 1.1 Implied or explicit significance.
      ‘he gave me a look full of meaning’
      • ‘And this stylistic difference takes on significant meaning.’
      • ‘She just did not want to accept the full depth of meaning that lay in his pained green eyes.’
      • ‘What Nicole said probably carried more meaning than its length, but I just could not figure it out at that moment.’
      • ‘His bright blue eyes were staring straight at my boring brown ones, and they looked so deep… so full of meaning.’
      • ‘Her caustic reply carried more meaning than he knew.’
      • ‘His movie is a spare, uncompromised vision, every shot full of thought and meaning.’
      • ‘She could tell that the piece that was being written before her in Elaine's delicate but rushed writing was full of meaning for the girl.’
      • ‘He had looked at her, in a gaze full of meaning, and nodded.’
      • ‘How come I never noticed before how even innocent little sayings can be so full of meaning?’
      • ‘What had begun as an empty gesture became imbued with enormous significance and meaning; the thing that was killing him became a lifeline.’
      • ‘Like language, these photographs are surrogates for reality, full of meaning but incomplete in and of themselves.’
      • ‘Coming from him those two words were packed full of meaning that they hadn't meant in anyone else's mouth.’
      • ‘There are a lot of hidden meanings in this work, which other artists don't have.’
      significance, sense, signification, import, thrust, drift, gist, implication, tenor, message, essence, substance, purport, intention
      expressiveness, significance, eloquence, implications, intimations, insinuations
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    2. 1.2 Important or worthwhile quality; purpose.
      ‘this can lead to new meaning in the life of older people’
      • ‘The relatively recent death of his wife at the hands of a drunk driver has left Harry alone and emotionally drained, with only his job giving his life purpose and meaning.’
      • ‘The school emphasizes a broad education and the curriculum is designed to assist students in finding purpose and meaning in their learning.’
      • ‘Everything fits; everything has purpose and meaning.’
      • ‘Time and passion can pull a man's attention away from purpose and meaning.’
      • ‘Natasha works in retail, and attempts to find meaning and significance in the daily drudgery of life.’
      • ‘It was the first time that she ever had a true purpose and meaning to her life; she felt a swell of something like pride in her.’
      • ‘They are connected spiritually through a sense of purpose and meaning for their lives.’
      • ‘Does our work provide us with a sense of purpose and meaning that goes beyond just making money?’
      • ‘It is a testament to the importance of varied personal experiences as a means of finding meaning in life.’
      • ‘This augmentation imbues mere ‘shopping’ with noble purpose and new meaning!’
      • ‘But if firefighting and family ultimately have no meaning or purpose, then why not lash out at the world?’
      • ‘The boys provide the conduit and renewed energy for Luisa to awaken from her living nightmare, finding purpose and meaning in her life.’
      • ‘Some men whose lives have lost traditional meaning have found new purpose, collaborating as partners with their wives.’
      • ‘However since the time around the release of the Athlon, power supplies began to take on a more important meaning for computers.’
      value, validity, worth, consequence, account, use, usefulness, significance, point
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  • attributive Intended to communicate something that is not directly expressed.

    ‘she gave Gabriel a meaning look’
    meaningful, significant, pointed, eloquent, expressive, pregnant, speaking, telltale, revealing, suggestive
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  • not know the meaning of the word

    • informal Behave as if unaware of the concept referred to or implied.

      ‘“Humanity?” You don't know the meaning of the word!’
      • ‘These people don't know the meaning of the word defeat.’
      • ‘Rudy tells the story of a boy who doesn't know the meaning of the word ‘quit.’’
      • ‘‘You don't know the meaning of the word, ‘he told her as he dragged her toward the car, ‘but you're going to learn.’’
      • ‘I'm sorry, Hannah, he doesn't know the meaning of the word.’
      • ‘‘You don't know the meaning of the word,’ he retorted heatedly, and mentally blinked.’
      • ‘I had woken up thinking my day would be ordinary but apparently I didn't know the meaning of the word.’
      • ‘Now, there's a man who doesn't know the meaning of the word ‘restraint.’’
      • ‘Curly was never serious, he didn't know the meaning of the word.’
      • ‘We don't know the meaning of the word suffering.’
      • ‘I guess that makes two of us who don't know the meaning of the word.’


Late Middle English: verbal noun from mean.