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    #1

    that's no mean feat.

    From Newsweek, International Edition.

    What does give a pause, however, is the question of how best to keep funding the teaching and research on which Oxorford's reputation rests. That's no mean feat.

    What does mean feat mean?

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: that's no mean feat.

    "Mean" in the sense of limited/poor/trivial/paltry. A 'mean feat' (if said in the positive) would be something easily done. But the collocation is 'no mean feat' - something not at all easy to do.

    BNC has 40 hits for "no mean [n*]" [the words "no mean" followed by any noun], of which by far the most frequent are 'no mean feat' and 'no mean achievement':

    1 NO MEAN FEAT 29
    2 NO MEAN ACHIEVEMENT 22
    3 NO MEAN TASK 3
    4 NO MEAN PERFORMER 3
    5 NO MEAN ACCOMPLISHMENT 1
    6 NO MEAN WOMAN 1
    7 NO MEAN WAGE 1
    8 NO MEAN VALUE 1
    9 NO MEAN UNDERTAKING 1
    10 NO MEAN THEOLOGIAN 1
    11 NO MEAN TERMS 1
    12 NO MEAN PARTS 1
    13 NO MEAN ORDER 1
    14 NO MEAN MAGNETISM 1
    15 NO MEAN MAGNATE 1
    16 NO MEAN GUITAR 1
    17 NO MEAN FIGURE 1
    18 NO MEAN SUM 1
    19 NO MEAN SPEED 1
    20 NO MEAN SIGNIFICANCE 1
    21 NO MEAN ROLE 1
    22 NO MEAN RANK 1
    23 NO MEAN PROMISE 1
    24 NO MEAN PROBLEM 1
    25 NO MEAN PLAYER 1
    26 NO MEAN PICKINGS 1
    27 NO MEAN FASHION 1
    28 NO MEAN EXCITEMENT 1
    29 NO MEAN DEPENDENCE 1
    30 NO MEAN CRICKETERS 1
    31 NO MEAN COMBATANT 1
    32 NO MEAN COLLECTOR 1
    33 NO MEAN CITY 1
    34 NO MEAN CINEMA-CITY 1
    35 NO MEAN CHAUVINIST 1
    36 NO MEAN BODY 1
    37 NO MEAN BEAST 1
    38 NO MEAN BAT 1
    39 NO MEAN ATHLETE 1
    40 NO MEAN ACHIEVEMENTS 1
    ([Davies/BYU] 100+ million word, freely available online corpora )

    b

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