No Mean Feat: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 22, 2023

The phrase "no mean feat" usually pops up when we're talking about something that's not easy to achieve. It's all about recognizing the efforts it takes to accomplish certain tasks or goals, especially those that require significant skill, time, or resources.

In short:

  • "No mean feat" refers to an achievement that requires considerable effort or skill.
  • The idiom underscores the difficulty or complexity of a task or achievement.

What Does "No Mean Feat" Mean?

The phrase "no mean feat" essentially means that something is not easily achieved. It’s typically used when someone accomplishes something significant or challenging, denoting that the achievement took considerable effort, skill, or resources.

Now, let's unpack its main connotations and uses:

  • "No mean feat" is used to describe an accomplishment that requires substantial effort or is challenging to achieve. It's a way of emphasizing the magnitude or difficulty of the task.
  • This phrase comes in handy when acknowledging or praising someone's accomplishments, particularly when those achievements are challenging or require exceptional effort or skill.
  • If you mention that getting through a marathon was "no mean feat," you're suggesting that this challenge required substantial stamina and training.
  • Phrases akin to "no mean feat" include "not a walk in the park," "no small accomplishment," and "a considerable achievement."

Where Does "No Mean Feat" Come From?

The phrase "no mean feat" originates from the use of the word "mean" to describe something as humble or of low quality. This sense of the word "mean" is not as commonly used today. The idiom implies that the accomplishment being referred to is not a small or insignificant one. The exact origin of the phrase is unclear, but its use in English can be traced back to at least the early 20th century.

Historical Examples

"It is surely no mean feat to have proved the successful champion, even in romance, of the private life of one whose literary and public career has called forth."

- Hogg's Instructor, 1854

"This is no mean feat to force the round leather two hundred yards without touching the earth."

- The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, 1846

"Bruno looked sulky; for he was conscious of having performed no mean feat, and expected commendation instead of blame."

- Palgrave of Sycamora, 1862

10 Examples of "No Mean Feat" in Sentences

Let's delve into some real-life examples to illustrate how this idiom is used in different contexts:

  • Balancing a busy work schedule while staying in the pink of health is no mean feat, but regular exercise and a healthy diet can help.
  • Running a marathon is no mean feat; it requires months of rigorous training and preparation.
  • He managed to graduate at the top of his class while working a part-time job, which is no mean feat.
  • Overcoming the challenges of a long-distance relationship and staying connected is no mean feat, but they proved that love conquers all.
  • Writing a best-selling novel is no mean feat; it requires not just talent but dedication and perseverance.
  • He took the initiative and started his own business. That was no mean feat in such a competitive market.
  • Staying focused and seizing the day amidst numerous distractions is no mean feat.
  • Balancing a career and raising a family is no mean feat and takes a lot of careful planning and time management.
  • She gave it a shot and applied for the scholarship. It was no mean feat to write an impressive essay and gather all the documents.
  • Learning to surf the net efficiently and find reliable information is no mean feat, but it's an essential skill in today's digital age.

Examples of "No Mean Feat" in Pop Culture

The phrase "no mean feat" is frequently used in pop culture, usually referring to substantial or noteworthy accomplishments.

Let's take a look at a few examples:

  • In the book "Understanding David Mamet" on JSTOR, the phrase is used: "Understanding David Mamet is no mean feat."
  • In Victoria Mae's book "Between The Lines," the phrase appears: "Blush is no mean feat, yet, Liv packs up her feelings and embarks on this..."
  • In a book review of "Comedians" by Steve Best on Chortle, the phrase is used: "'We stop trying to impress or be funny - no mean feat for a comic,' Hill writes."
  • The song Vertigo by Akos has the lyrics: "Walking down your street / That's no mean feat / This life that you lead / What a life of deceit."
  • In the review of the Avengers Original Score Soundtrack on AVForums, the phrase is used: "His major theme for the film and the Asgardian hero could be played for ... and testosterone for six superheroes … and that's no mean feat."

Other/Different Ways to Say "No Mean Feat"

You can use various expressions that carry a similar meaning to "no mean feat."

Here are some of them:

  • A considerable achievement
  • A significant accomplishment
  • No small task
  • Not an easy feat
  • Quite an accomplishment
  • A major undertaking
  • A big deal
  • Not a walk in the park
  • A tall order
  • Something to be proud of

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "No Mean Feat":

  • What does "no mean feat" mean?

"No mean feat" is an idiom that refers to a task, achievement, or accomplishment that requires significant effort, skill, or courage.

  • How can I use "no mean feat" in a sentence?

Here's an example: "He got over it and moved on with his life. That was no meanfeat after such a traumatic experience."

  • Where does the idiom "no mean feat" originate from?

The phrase "no mean feat" is believed to have originated in Britain in the late 19th century. The term "mean" here is used to mean "inferior" or "lowly," so the phrase implies a significant or worthy achievement.

  • Is "no mean feat" used in both formal and informal contexts?

Yes, "no mean feat" is versatile and can be used in both formal and informal contexts to denote a substantial achievement.

  • Can "no mean feat" be used to describe small accomplishments?

Typically, "no mean feat" is used to highlight significant achievements or tasks that require considerable effort or skill. However, what constitutes a "significant" achievement can be subjective and context-dependent.

  • Does "no mean feat" always imply a positive outcome?

Generally, "no mean feat" refers to the accomplishment itself rather than the outcome. The outcome could be positive or negative, but the phrase emphasizes the difficulty or challenge of the task.

  • Can "no mean feat" be used to describe future plans or goals?

Yes, "no mean feat" can be used to describe future tasks or goals that are expected to be challenging or require significant effort. For example, "Starting from scratch and building a business is no mean feat after several failed attempts."

  • What are some synonyms for "no mean feat"?

Some synonyms for "no mean feat" include "a considerable achievement," "a significant accomplishment," "no small task," and "quite an accomplishment."

  • Is "no mean feat" used in other languages as well?

The exact phrase "no mean feat" is English. However, similar idioms or expressions that convey the concept of a difficult or significant achievement exist in many languages.

  • Can "no mean feat" refer to overcoming personal challenges or difficulties?

Yes, "no mean feat" can also refer to overcoming personal challenges, difficulties, or adversities. For instance, "Overcoming her fear of public speaking was no mean feat."

Final Thoughts About "No Mean Feat"

"No mean feat" is a commonly used idiom that emphasizes the difficulty, significance, or magnitude of achievement or task. It reminds us of the effort and resilience often required to accomplish our goals and overcome challenges.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "No mean feat" refers to a substantial achievement or accomplishment that requires significant effort, skill, or courage.
  • The idiom can be used in a variety of contexts, both formal and informal, and can refer to past, present, or future achievements.
  • While it denotes a difficult or challenging task, the positive or negative outcome isn't implied by the phrase itself.

Whether we're talking about scaling a mountain, completing a difficult project, or overcoming personal adversity, recognizing these as "no mean feat" gives credit to the effort and determination behind such accomplishments.

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