I have in my diction this phrase:

Meaner, minor things

that I've always understood as a way to say "things that are less important than other things."

Before using it in a work email today, I googled the phrase to make sure I was spelling it / understanding it correctly. However, Google yielded no confirmation that this is even a real phrase that people use.

Am I making this phrase up? Does it make sense? Perhaps my spelling is incorrect and google did not throw me a bone? What am I missing?


Understand that "meaner" has several definitions. The most common use is for "unkind", but it can also mean "humble" or "lower class". I suspect that this latter definition is intended in your quote.

Note that the usage is somewhat archaic, and, while perhaps appropriate in a novel, is probably not ideal for your typical email.


Even if this construction is not used as catch phrase it has a sound basis. From the dictionary definition for "mean", (SOED) "4. Poor in quality or condition; of little value, contemptible; comparatively worthless. Now chiefly N. Amer. colloq.", which happens to be proper essentially to AmE, the sense of "meaner, minor things" must be clear immediately clear to the reader.

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