me·​di·​e·​val | \ ˌmē-ˈdē-vəl How to pronounce medieval (audio) , mi-, ˌme-, -dē-ˈē-vəl How to pronounce medieval (audio) \
variants: or less commonly mediaeval

Definition of medieval

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of the Middle Ages medieval history medieval architecture
2 : having a quality (such as cruelty) associated with the Middle Ages
3 : extremely outmoded or antiquated has medieval ideas about the role of women in our society


variants: or less commonly mediaeval

Definition of medieval (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person of the Middle Ages

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Other Words from medieval


medievally adverb

Did You Know?

With its roots medi-, meaning "middle", and ev-, meaning "age", medieval literally means "of the Middle Ages". In this case, middle means "between the Roman empire and the Renaissance"—that is, after the fall of the great Roman state and before the "rebirth" of culture that we call the Renaissance. This same period used to be called the "Dark Ages", since it was believed that in these years civilization all but vanished. And indeed, for most Europeans in these centuries, it was a time of poverty, famine, plague, and superstition, rather than the age of magic, dazzling swordplay, towering castles, and knights in splendid armor displayed in today's graphic novels and video games.

Examples of medieval in a Sentence

Adjective They're using a computer system that seems positively medieval by today's standards. get rid of that medieval kerosene stove—it stinks and it's dangerous
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Travelers can enjoy everything from medieval castles to wineries to a host of museums. David Oliver, USA TODAY, "10 of the trendiest destinations you should really visit in 2020," 13 Dec. 2019 The Knight Before Christmas A teacher (Vanessa Hudgens) has basically given up on love, until a literal medieval knight appears and the sparks fly. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "16 Romantic Christmas Movies to Stream on Netflix Over the Holidays," 13 Dec. 2019 In the film, science teacher Brooke (Vanessa Hudgens) takes in medieval knight Sir Cole (Josh Whitehouse) after a magical sorceress transports him to present-day Ohio. Katherine Schaffstall, The Hollywood Reporter, "Vanessa Hudgens and Josh Whitehouse Talk Spreading Joy With 'The Knight Before Christmas'," 24 Nov. 2019 History of the hip knit Turtlenecks were first worn by medieval knights in the 15th century under their armor to prevent chafing. Ephrat Livni, Quartzy, "The woke shopper’s one-item Zen gift guide," 23 Nov. 2019 Growing up in a small fishing village in France near the coast of Brittany, Julien Dossena, the 37-year-old creative director of Paco Rabanne, spent hours sketching speedboats, whales, medieval knights and sultry female superheroes. Lindsay Talbot, New York Times, "The Designer Updating Space-Age Cool for Today," 9 Oct. 2019 Days 12-15: Bhaktapur Travel to the medieval city of Bhaktapur, where ancient architecture offers a glimpse into Nepalese life before the arrival of modern influences. National Geographic, "Nepal Community Service: Sustainable Development and Rural Livelihoods," 10 Sep. 2019 The actress’ Ralph Lauren strapless gown was paired with an embellished gold chain mail coif reminiscent of a medieval knight, an emphatic nod to the theme of the night, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. Cady Lang, Time, "Priyanka Chopra Stuns in an Elegant Dress at the 2018 Met Gala," 8 May 2018 Prizes were offered at some polls for voters who wore the best costumes, and some people came dressed as bears, folk characters and medieval knights. Francesca Ebel, Fox News, "Russian vote problems: Ballot stuffing, coercion, gimmicks," 18 Mar. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Adriatic nation of 4.2 million people is best known for its stunning Adriatic Sea coast that includes over 1,000 islands and picturesque coastal towns such as the medieval walled city of Dubrovnik. Washington Post, "Croats pick president in tight test for ruling conservatives," 22 Dec. 2019 The tariffs could imperil future sales of antiques collections like the Linyushanren Collection, a set of Chinese ceramics from the medieval Song Dynasty assembled by a Japanese collector. Andrew Duehren, WSJ, "The Art of the Trade Deal: Chinese Paintings and Antiquities Caught in U.S.-China Fight," 1 Sep. 2018 Silver production rose gradually but steadily through the prosperous medieval warm period. The Economist, "Arctic lead levels shed new light on Europe’s history," 10 July 2019 And maybe also to sort out this whole Jaime/Tormund love triangle situation—a new (and supremely bizarre) subplot that positions Ser Brienne as a medieval Kelly Taylor, forced to choose between Brandon and Dylan. Courtney Shea, Harper's BAZAAR, "Brienne of Tarth Lives—And Gwendoline Christie Has Some Thoughts About that Love Triangle," 6 May 2019 Although most manuscripts date to the late medieval and early modern periods, the practice of copying by hand endured in Yemen well into the 20th century. Christian C. Sahner, WSJ, "Yemen’s Threatened Cultural Heritage," 25 Dec. 2018 Sitting at the foothills of the mystical Mount Taygetus, not only is this medieval walled town a UNESCO World Heritage Monument immersed in fascinating history, but the surrounding natural environment is rugged, raw, and inspiringly real. Alex Postman, Condé Nast Traveler, "28 Places Our Travel Specialists Say You Should Go in 2019," 17 Dec. 2018 Candid, gossipy and occasionally imperiled by demons, Margery Kempe was a 15th-century mystic and the author of a terrific medieval tell-all. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "10 Plays and Musicals to Go to in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 5 July 2018 Along the way, cyclists pedal past medieval walled villages like Montreuil and the 18th-century Chateau de Long. David Farley, WSJ, "The Best Guides to Cycling Major Cities—Even Los Angeles," 10 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'medieval.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of medieval


1817, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1856, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for medieval

Adjective and Noun

New Latin medium aevum Middle Ages

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Time Traveler for medieval

Time Traveler

The first known use of medieval was in 1817

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Statistics for medieval

Last Updated

3 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Medieval.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for medieval


How to pronounce medieval (audio) How to pronounce medieval (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of medieval

: of or relating to the Middle Ages : of or relating to the period of European history from about A.D. 500 to about 1500
informal : very old : too old to be useful or acceptable


variants: also mediaeval \ ˌmē-​dē-​ˈē-​vəl , ˌme-​ \

Kids Definition of medieval

: of or relating to the Middle Ages medieval castles medieval French

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Comments on medieval

What made you want to look up medieval? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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