Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Mean and Median

mean-medianMean vs Median
The difference between mean and median is not just a mathematical one. Ironically, mean may also be used as a figure  of speech!

Median, when used as a technical term, is defined as a value in the middle of a series of values as in median age or price. A median can also be the mid-point of a line. In pure mathematics, median is defined as the middle value of a series of numbers arranged in order of size. In geometry, a median would be a straight line passing from a point of a triangle to the center of the opposite side.

This means if you have, for example, nine students in a group with their ages being 13, 16, 12, 15, 12, 11, 14, 13 and 14 then, after you arrange them in ascending or descending order, the number at the fifth place would be the median. The median is not influenced by the fact whether the items or numbers are repeating. In the same series of numbers if you were to find the mean, you would essentially have to find their average.

The mean is calculated by adding all the amounts in a group, finding the total and then, dividing the total by the number of amounts. It also implies a middle between the highest and the lowest in metereological terms like mean temperature.

Incidentally, unlike median, mean also functions as a figure of speech! You can use mean as a verb for implying the inherent meaning or implication of a word, sentence, thought etc. When used as an adjective, the word mean can imply a range of characteristics. These are usually in phrasal forms like ‘mean with money’ implying not generous with funds.

As a literary reference, mean can imply poor for example, mean in appearance would refer to a poor appearance. In its formal form of language use, mean can also imply a person’s understanding not being great for example, in ‘this should be clear even to those of meanest intelligence’.

Ironically, in its informal form when used in language, mean can imply the exact opposite as being skillful. For example, in the phrase ‘she  plays a mean game of chess’ means the person being referred to is good at playing chess! Mean can also be used as an adjective to imply unkindness, anger and violence.


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