Means, plural, but usually treated as single. Notably, article a/the is used in front of 'means': These pledges are a means to avoid prosecution. The pigtail was imposed by the victorious Manchu-Tartars when they finally established their dynasty in 1644, not so much as a badge of conquest, still less of servitude, but as a means of obliterating , so far as possible, the most patent distinction between the two races, and of unifying the appearance, if not the aspirations, of the subjects of the Son of Heaven. <Phrases> By all means: of course, certainly (granting a permission). May I make a suggestion? By all means. By any means: in any way, at all (following a negative). I am not poor by any means. By no means: not at all; certainly not. The outcome is by no means guaranteed.