- plural of mean
- (countable, singular and plural) An instrument or condition for attaining a purpose.
- She treated him as a means to an end.
- A car is a means of transport.
1622, Francis Bacon, History of the reign of King Henry VII:
- And by this means also he had them the more at vantage, being tired and harassed with a long march; and more at mercy, being cut off far from their country, and therefore not able by any sudden flight to get to retreat, and to renew their troubles.
2013 June 7, Ed Pilkington, “‘Killer robots’ should be banned in advance, UN told”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 6:
- In his submission to the UN, [Christof] Heyns points to the experience of drones. Unmanned aerial vehicles were intended initially only for surveillance, and their use for offensive purposes was prohibited, yet once strategists realised their perceived advantages as a means of carrying out targeted killings, all objections were swept out of the way.
- (uncountable, plural only) Resources; riches.
- a person of means; independent means
- He was living beyond his means.
1676, Richard Baxter, A Treatise of Justifying Righteousness, page 163:
- Where there is much means to be used, and conditions yet to be performed, for the continuation and Consummation of our Justification, there it is not yet continued or consummate.
1921, United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary, Authorizing association of producers of agricultural products, page 99:
- Then the other 12 packers […] were men without much means, who lived in Fresno
Frequently contrasted with end (“goal”), as in “a means to an end”. Similar contrast is process vs. product.
instrument or condition for attaining a purpose
- third-person singular simple present indicative form of mean
Present active participle of meō (“go along, traverse”)
meāns m, f, n (genitive meantis); third declension
- going along, passing, traversing
1When used purely as an adjective.