mean streak: meaning and explanation

If someone has a mean streak or a nasty streak, it means that there is an unpleasant or unfriendly aspect to their personality.

In general they could be quite friendly, but at times they have a tendency to be unkind or horrible.

We can adapt this phrase for other aspects of someone’s personality – usually negative ones (e.g. a competitive streak, a stubborn streak).

Dictation #1

Accent: Northern England

really nice , he's a bit of .
he's a really nice , but he's got a bit of a streak.

…he’s also got a bit of a mean streak…

Notice the pronunciation of ‘got’ – the ‘t’ sound is ‘dropped’ and pronounced as a ‘glottal stop’ which can make the word hard to identify. If you’re interested in what people think about the glottal stop and why it is often (unfairly) criticised, have a look at this article.

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • Do you know anyone who has a bit of a mean streak?
  • Would you say that you have a nasty streak? Has anyone ever told you this?

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