Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

English slang is constantly evolving!

Today you’ll learn how the word ‘mean’ can be positive when used as slang.

You can use it to compliment someone’s signature dish.

It can also be used at work or social parties.

Listen in to learn how to use this fun English slang!

English slang

Michelle asks Lindsay if mean can ever be positive.

Lindsay responds it definitely can.

The term ‘mean’ is slang you can use to say something is nice.

Today, we are going to talk about a new way to use the word ‘mean’ to say something is good.

This is real English.

Listen in and learn English that will help you sound more like a native English speaker.

Keep consuming All Ears English resources and improve your English language skills.

You can check our episode AEE 2058: Five Years Down the Road – Future Plans in English and get vocabulary to talk about plans far into the future.

When ‘mean’ means nice

Here is an example of how the word ‘mean’ can mean something is good.

“I make a mean apple pie.”

If you take it literally, you may think it means the apple pie is rude or nasty.

That would be confusing since it makes no sense!

This statement actually means that you make a great apple pie and it tastes really good.

You can use the word ‘mean’ as slang and it basically means amazing.

Grammar of ‘mean’

In order to use it as slang, it must come directly before a noun.

You would only use it before something you like.

You can’t say “that’s mean” instead of “that’s amazing.”

This wouldn’t make any sense.

Instead, always place it directly before a noun that you want to describe as fantastic.

Similar slang

English has many various slang words that mean the opposite of something.

A similar slang word is ‘sick.’

You might hear someone say, “That was a sick skateboard trick.”

This would mean the person did an awesome move on his skateboard.

An air of confidence

Saying ‘mean’ has confidence to it.

When you use it about yourself, you’re having fun with saying you are good at something.

It’s most frequently used with a talent one may have, like cooking something, creating something, or playing something.

Michelle asks Lindsay if she would use the word ‘mean.’

Lindsay jokingly says yes but not about her cooking skills.

She would say, “We make a mean podcast episode.”

Here are some more examples:

  • I play a mean game of checkers.
  • Charlie makes a mean tomato soup completely from scratch.
  • He plays a mean guitar solo.

Using ‘mean’ in a conversation

Michelle asks Lindsay about a hidden talent that she might have.

Lindsay says she makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich.

She uses pickles and Dijon mustard on it.

It compliments the taste of the sandwich.

The slang word ‘mean’ can be used for emphasis or exaggeration.

It gives some playful variety to your speech.

You can show off your talents and sound confident, or compliment someone in a fun way.

Take note that this can be a bit informal.

Depending on your work culture, you can use this term in a casual conversation with coworkers.


Here is a quick roleplay from Lindsay and Michelle using the slang word ‘mean.’

In this scenario, Lindsay and Michelle are friends at a party.

Lindsay: Hey Michelle so glad you could make it!
Michelle: Thanks for inviting me! Man, you throw a mean party.
Linsday: Thank you!
Michelle: The spread over there looks incredible.
Lindsay: What can I say, Michelle? I make a mean spinach artichoke dip. Go try it!
Michelle: I will!


This is a fun and useful word to use in a way you may not have thought to use it before.

You can use a lot of slang as a great way to compliment and connect with someone.

English should be fun!

Experiment and try this slang with your friends and colleagues today.

What are other slang words you know?

Share it with us in the comments below!

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