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me·​di·​e·​val ˌmē-ˈdē-vəl How to pronounce medieval (audio)
-dē-ˈē-vəl How to pronounce medieval (audio)
variants or less commonly mediaeval
: of, relating to, or characteristic of the Middle Ages
medieval history
medieval architecture
: having a quality (such as cruelty) associated with the Middle Ages
: extremely outmoded or antiquated
has medieval ideas about the role of women in our society
medievally adverb


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variants or less commonly mediaeval
: a person of the Middle Ages

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
Such wisdom fills the pages of this immensely entertaining history, which is constructed around medieval guidebooks and travelogues, and highlights dazzling destinations like Constantinople and Rhodes under the Knights Hospitaller. The New Yorker, 12 June 2024 So much history creates an undeniable sense of enchantment; meandering cobblestone streets beg to be explored, picturesque bridges cross quaint rivers, and a 600-year-old astronomical clock chimes through the medieval Old Town Square. Emily Hochberg, Travel + Leisure, 11 June 2024
The site is considered one of the oldest medieval to early modern cemeteries in the city. Moira Ritter, Miami Herald, 7 Mar. 2024 On paper, the consort is the resident early music ensemble of the Folger Shakespeare Library, specializing in repertoire drawn from the medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 17 Dec. 2023 See all Example Sentences for medieval 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'medieval.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective and Noun

New Latin medium aevum Middle Ages

First Known Use


1817, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1856, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of medieval was in 1817

Dictionary Entries Near medieval

Cite this Entry

“Medieval.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


variants also mediaeval
: of, relating to, or characteristic of the Middle Ages

More from Merriam-Webster on medieval

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