What are German equivalents of the English mean, as in "What does this word mean?" or "What do you mean by that?"?

How would you translate the 2 sentences?
"What does this word mean?" --> "Was _ dieses Wort?"
"What do you mean by that?" --> "Was _ du/Sie?"

I've heard that there are several different German words for those cases but am unsure as to what words would work.

  • denken. Woran denkst du damit, das würde ich sagen. Das ist verständlich, aber wahrscheinlich nicht korrekt.
    – peterh
    Jul 22 '19 at 7:17

What does this word mean?

Was bedeutet dieses Wort?

Was meint dieses Wort?

The tricky difference is bedeuten asks for the meaning of the word as in the dictionary whereas meinen asks for the meaning in the current context. It's the same in the following sentence.

Was meinst du damit?

What do you mean by that?

Again, meinen asks for the meaning in context.

Another matching word is heißen.

Was heißt das?

What does it mean?

You are expecting a very thorough answer on this question.

  • Was heißt das? seems to ask "What is this called?" rather than "What is this word's definition?" or "What does that mean in this context?".
    – John Zhau
    Jul 22 '19 at 3:18
  • 1
    Bedeuten and heißen are pretty synonymous. The only obvious counterexamples are Wie heißen Sie? and Ich heiße dich willkommen.
    – Janka
    Jul 22 '19 at 3:23
  • @JohnZhau A better translation for "What is this called?" is "Wie nennt man das?". Maybe "Wie heißt das?", but that also feels strange. Heißen in this meaning can be used for names of people, not definitions of things.
    – RalfFriedl
    Jul 22 '19 at 5:23

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