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Language tip of the week: mean

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. These tips are usually based on areas of English which learners find difficult, e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, usage, etc.

This week’s language tip helps with the differences in how people use the adjective mean in American and British English.



In the UK, mean usually describes someone who is not generous or does not like spending money: He’s too mean to give a large donation.

The usual American word for this is cheap. In the US, mean usually describes someone or something that is unkind, cruel, or violent: It’s mean of you to ignore her.

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Liz Potter

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