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 Adams’s visit to the Chartres Cathedral in the 1890s inspired his love for medieval poetry and his sense of the sacred. Diane Scharper, Washington Examiner, "Who was Henry Adams?," 31 Dec. 2020 Wood clogs date to the medieval period and were primarily peasant shoes, made from a cheap, readily available material that offered protection from occupational hazards associated with farming and other dangerous, physically demanding labor. Nancy Macdonell, WSJ, "How Clogs Clomped Back Into Style (Seriously)," 29 Dec. 2020 Bookended by a processional and recessional based on a Gregorian chant, the work includes eight carols — with texts from a collection of mostly medieval poetry — and a harp interlude. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, "A holiday gift: Orpheus Chamber Singers will release a free Christmas concert online this week," 23 Dec. 2020 This spring, four such rare Tudor tokens turned up in the New Forest area of southern England, where a British family weeding its garden during Covid-19 lockdown unearthed a trove of 64 medieval coins. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "Gardeners Unearth Coins Inscribed With Initials of Henry VIII’s First Three Wives," 11 Dec. 2020 The style elsewhere ranges from Monet-like depictions of the wildest Ireland to naive depictions of the village of Kilkenny that suggest perspective-free medieval painting. John Anderson, WSJ, "‘Wolfwalkers’ Review: An Irish Enchantment," 8 Dec. 2020 The 50 avatars are all dressed in neo-medieval style reminiscent of Raised by Wolves and the trailer for the upcoming Dune film, both of which showcase future worlds that have deteriorated as a result of political unrest and climate change. Barry Samaha, Harper's BAZAAR, "Balenciaga Launches a Video Game for Its Fall 2021 Collection," 7 Dec. 2020 The funicular railway and the winding staircase that led up to the medieval hilltop town were both deserted. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "Bergamo’s Pandemic Survivors Carry Scars Unseen and Incalculable," 6 Dec. 2020 Round light-green leaves have a prominent dark brown pattern etched into them that resembles a medieval cross. Earl Nickel,, "Begonias add cheer to the Bay Area winter garden," 4 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 Gareth Williams, the curator of early-medieval coinage and Viking collections at the British Museum, became entranced by the Norse world as a small child, while paging through a library book. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, "The Curse of the Buried Treasure," 9 Nov. 2020 The previous weekend the company had hosted an immersive medieval-themed weekend for about 30 families who came with R.V.s, tents and costumes. Katherine Rosman, New York Times, "Some Lessons From Home-Schoolers," 23 Sep. 2020 In Wagner’s medieval Nuremberg, there is no separation between art and life—the town’s leading singer, Hans Sachs, earns his living as a shoemaker. Adam Kirsch, The New Republic, "The Problem With Redemption for Wagner," 11 Sep. 2020 Billed in its display as medieval—perhaps several hundred years old at most—the sword struck Dall’Armellina, an expert in Bronze Age artifacts, as something far more ancient. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Graduate Student Discovers One of World’s Oldest Swords in Mislabeled Monastery Display," 16 Mar. 2020 Earlier artifacts dating back to the Roman era have been found beneath the medieval remains. Fox News, "Mysterious graves discovered, may be medieval monks’ cemetery," 25 June 2020 In late medieval and early modern Europe, plague hospitals were frequently staffed by physicians, priests, members of religious orders, and lay religious women and men. Adam J. Davis, The Conversation, "From pews to patients – churches have long served as hospitals, particularly in times of crisis," 27 Apr. 2020 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

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 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Medieval.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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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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