Student or Learner
I wonder if a word like "mean" (adj.), which has positive and negative meanings, how we understand what people mean.
John is a mean boss.
Whether John is good and skillful boss, or he is a unkind boss.
Can we determine without more context
Do you encounter this problem in life?
Thanks a lot.
As you suggested yourself, ysc, it is not possible to say exactly what is meant without more context.
More context is of course necessary, but in most work contexts 'John is a mean boss' has a negative implication. In 'Jimi Hendrix plays a mean guitar solo' it's positive. There's no big problem here; words used with a strong sense of approval often start life as pejorative: mean, wicked, bad, sick... It's not difficult to work out - just look at the situation (looking at a book will only get you so far...)