Definition of means noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//miːnz//
    ; NAmE NAmE//miːnz//
    (pl. means)
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  1. 1  [countable] means (of something/of doing something) an action, an object or a system by which a result is achieved; a way of achieving or doing something Television is an effective means of communication. Is there any means of contacting him? Have you any means of identification? We needed to get to London but we had no means of transport.
  2. 2[plural] the money that a person has People should pay according to their means. He doesn't have the means to support a wife and child. Private school fees are beyond the means of most people(= more than they can afford). Are the monthly repayments within your means (= can you afford them)? Try to live within your means(= not spend more money than you have). a man of means (= a rich man)
  3. Word Origin late Middle English: plural of mean (noun), the early sense being ‘intermediary’.Extra examples Eligibility for the benefit was determined by a means test. Gold has been the preferred means of exchange for centuries. He saw his education merely as a means to an end. In the case of torture, the end can never justify the means. Infringement of copyright includes distribution by electronic means. My English teacher provided me with the means to enjoy reading poetry. Oil lamps were the sole means of illumination. Painting had become his primary means of self-expression. Private school fees are beyond the means of most people. She finds it difficult to live within her means. She must have independent means to live in such style. The stone was lifted by means of a rope and pulley. There are ways and means of raising money. They cannot achieve their goal through legal means. War is famously ‘the continuation of policy by other means’. We have no means of knowing how they will react. We will use every possible means to achieve our objective. a means of access/​communication/​transport a means of getting what you want an effective means of mass communication people who lack visible means of support the means for achieving happiness Do you have any means of identification? He did not have the means to support a family. I don’t believe that in this case the means justified the end. People should pay according to their means. TV is a highly effective means of communication. The study aims to provide a means of testing the theory. Try to live within your means. We must look for an alternative means of escape. We will use whatever means are necessary. What means of transport did they use? a man/​woman of meansIdioms used to say that you are very willing for somebody to have something or do something ‘Do you mind if I have a look?’ ‘By all means.’ using dishonest methods if honest ones do not work She’s determined to win, by fair means or foul.  (formal) with the help of something The load was lifted by means of a crane.
    by no means, not by any (manner of) means
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    not at all She is by no means an inexperienced teacher. We haven't won yet, not by any means.
    the end justifies the means
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    (saying) bad or unfair methods of doing something are acceptable if the result of that action is good or positive
    a thing or action that is not interesting or important in itself but is a way of achieving something else He doesn't particularly like the work but he sees it as a means to an end. the methods and materials available for doing something ways and means of raising money
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: means