Definition of meaning in 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’
    • ‘Slowly, I begin to pick up a few words and try to memorize their meanings.’
    • ‘According to Indian linguistics, when we hear words, we do not decode the meaning intended by the speaker.’
    • ‘Perhaps even more ironic was our conversation about names and their meanings.’
    • ‘The author often employs qualitative terms without explaining their meaning.’
    • ‘In language, intonation is an important source of meaning.’
    • ‘Surely we can imagine other meanings and contexts for these words.’
    • ‘A principio can mean both ‘in the beginning’ and ‘from the beginning’, and the double meaning is significant.’
    • ‘The average reader does not need a glossary for the meanings of all such words, for they are clearly elicited in the context.’
    • ‘These picture puzzles depended, like puns, on the assonance of words that have different meanings.’
    • ‘Some words are spelled the same as or very close to other words with different meanings.’
    • ‘Possible meanings of words contribute to the meaning of an utterance, which is an act by a speaker.’
    • ‘He was an intensely charismatic actor and conveyed the meanings of words as dramatically and sensitively as the music.’
    • ‘On first reading one may not understand all the meanings within a poem, but one can appreciate its rhythms and imagery.’
    • ‘They also help communicate, in a fundamental way, the very meaning of the work.’
    • ‘Clues abound, but definitive meaning is elusive.’
    • ‘No one could predict them or perhaps even properly understand their meanings.’
    • ‘Many of us didn't understand their meanings, but sang them all the same.’
    • ‘He thinks about the way one word can have two completely different meanings.’
    • ‘Erik faced his friend and scrutinized him for hidden meanings behind his words.’
    • ‘There were many meanings in his words, and all of them made me second guess the truths I had known all my life.’
    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’
      • ‘His bright blue eyes were staring straight at my boring brown ones, and they looked so deep… so full of meaning.’
      • ‘She just did not want to accept the full depth of meaning that lay in his pained green eyes.’
      • ‘Her caustic reply carried more meaning than he knew.’
      • ‘And this stylistic difference takes on significant 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.’
      • ‘There are a lot of hidden meanings in this work, which other artists don't have.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘What had begun as an empty gesture became imbued with enormous significance and meaning; the thing that was killing him became a lifeline.’
      • ‘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 Nicole said probably carried more meaning than its length, but I just could not figure it out at that moment.’
      • ‘His movie is a spare, uncompromised vision, every shot full of thought and meaning.’
      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’
      • ‘Everything fits; everything has purpose and meaning.’
      • ‘This augmentation imbues mere ‘shopping’ with noble purpose and new meaning!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Time and passion can pull a man's attention away from purpose and meaning.’
      • ‘It is a testament to the importance of varied personal experiences as a means of finding meaning in life.’
      • ‘Does our work provide us with a sense of purpose and meaning that goes beyond just making money?’
      • ‘The school emphasizes a broad education and the curriculum is designed to assist students in finding purpose and meaning in their learning.’
      • ‘Some men whose lives have lost traditional meaning have found new purpose, collaborating as partners with their wives.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Natasha works in retail, and attempts to find meaning and significance in the daily drudgery of life.’
      • ‘They are connected spiritually through a sense of purpose and meaning for their lives.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘We don't know the meaning of the word suffering.’
      • ‘I'm sorry, Hannah, he doesn't know the meaning of the word.’
      • ‘These people don't know the meaning of the word defeat.’
      • ‘‘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 had woken up thinking my day would be ordinary but apparently I didn't know the meaning of the word.’
      • ‘Curly was never serious, he didn't know the meaning of the word.’
      • ‘Now, there's a man who doesn't know the meaning of the word ‘restraint.’’
      • ‘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 retorted heatedly, and mentally blinked.’
      • ‘I guess that makes two of us who don't know the meaning of the word.’


Late Middle English: verbal noun from mean.