Mean is a strange word. It has several meanings – including THAT one.
The reason is, it has several SOURCES. When it means mean (describes describe) it comes from Old German – to think. When it means miserable and stingy, it is Old English for common. And when it means middling (as in mean average) it hails from the Old French for middle.
And of course, ALL these words have roots in Latin.
Meanwhile, Americans (who, as discussed elsewhere in these columns, HAVE to change the meaning of as many words as possible, so they can kid themselves THEY invented the Language Of Shakespeare) use the word mean to mean malicious or bad-tempered.
So the next time YOU use the word mean, make sure you know what you mean – or mean to mean – otherwise you will just sound mean…
Oh, and if you were not counting – that was FIFTEEN means in five paras, plus the title. No mean feat. That’s SEVENTEEN!