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 In the medieval period, London may have had a population of about a quarter of a million people, growing to approximately 600,000 by the early 17th century. Alison Kyra Carter, The Conversation, "A metropolis arose in medieval Cambodia – new research shows how many people lived in the Angkor Empire over time," 7 May 2021 Dagorhir is a live-action role-playing battle game with full-contact melee fighting between players wearing medieval-style garb and wielding weapons made of foam or other lightweight, harmless material. NBC News, "Ohio man accused of bombing attack on boyfriend of woman who spurned his romantic interest," 12 Mar. 2021 At the same time, the museum is planning on exhibitions designed to illuminate its traditional strengths in Asian art and European medieval art. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Cleveland Museum of Art announces new exhibits for 2021-2022 including big show on sculptor Alberto Giacometti," 29 Apr. 2021 Subsequent Christians theologians, from St. Augustine in the late fourth century onward throughout the medieval period, took up this line of interpretation. David Lincicum, The Conversation, "Ancient Christian thinkers made a case for reparations that has striking relevance today," 28 Apr. 2021 The soft rock here, with its winding cave systems and series of natural caverns, meant Cappadocia became renowned for its underground cities in medieval times. Richard Quest And Joe Minihane, CNN, "Inside Turkey's incredible underground city," 18 Apr. 2021 The Civic and Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art offers some unexpected pieces of medieval Tuscan art. Catherine Sabino, Forbes, "What To Know When You Next Travel To This Great Italian Wine Region," 15 Apr. 2021 Diagonal streets constructed in medieval times, centuries-old castles situated on Italian hills, and simple architectural pieces that survived wars, pestilence, and human wear sparked a longing to imagine who had been there. Steve Straessle, Arkansas Online, "Passageways," 17 Apr. 2021 In the medieval times, narwhal tusks were prized because they were believed to have magical powers. Sara Tabin, Forbes, "What Can Narwhal Tusks Tell Us About Climate Change? Quite A Lot, Scientists Say," 16 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun He was astonished by the news that the giant is a late-Saxon or early-medieval creation. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, "The Mysterious Origins of the Cerne Abbas Giant," 12 May 2021 But the origins of blackface minstrelsy are much older than most people know, with deep roots in the English medieval and Shakespearean theatrical traditions. Ayanna Thompson, Smithsonian Magazine, "Blackface Is Older Than You Might Think," 29 Apr. 2021 Fanone, who later described the scene as medieval, told reporters he was shocked on the back of his neck with a stun gun about half a dozen times. Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times, "Fontana man arrested on charges of assaulting officer in Capitol riot," 31 Mar. 2021 During the two millennia since, Aristotle’s take on literature as a kind of medicine has slipped into becoming a quirk of history, replaced by the medieval-then-modern view of literature as words to be interpreted. Angus Fletcher, WSJ, "The Cathartic Technology of Greek Tragedy," 24 Mar. 2021 En su huida, Jason cae desde una azotea y es milagrosamente transportado a la China medieval. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: ‘My Fair Lady’; ‘Marry Poppins’," 19 Mar. 2021 With a focus on medieval and Renaissance music, Blackmore’s Night puts a contemporary spin upon centuries old sound. Jim Ryan, Forbes, "Ritchie Blackmore And Candice Night On New Album And Carving Out A Unique Niche Outside The Mainstream Via Blackmore’s Night," 5 Mar. 2021 But for Nygren, the photograph called to mind medieval and Renaissance representations of the Ark of the Covenant. Washington Post, "Many Trump-era photos look like dramatic old paintings. That’s no ‘accident.’," 16 Jan. 2021 To do this, the anglers employ a variety of methods, ranging from the medieval to ones that would make James Bond proud. Kirk Deeter, Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: Carp Crazy," 5 Dec. 2020

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

13 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Medieval.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for medieval



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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