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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.

Example Sentences

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
According to Airbnb, the $208 tour would consist of the driver on his bike and myself in a sidecar making our way through Bordeaux and Saint-Émilion, including its medieval city, stopping at different châteaux along the way. Emy Rodriguez Flores, Condé Nast Traveler, 3 Jan. 2023 Rebekah, dressed in a bright pink t-shirt and a straw hat, had ridden all the way to Misano from Regensburg, a medieval city that sits on the banks of the Danube in Bavaria, Germany. Jonathan Hawkins, CNN, 15 Nov. 2022 Arhire is the custodian of a government archive in Sibiu, Romania, a medieval city in the region of Transylvania. Jo Marchant, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Nov. 2022 Like Ben Affleck in Last Duel, whose take on a libertine count in Ridley Scott's medieval drama was marred by poor box office and unfortunate boy-band hair. Leah Greenblatt,, 31 Jan. 2022 Most of the medieval manuscripts are books of hours — Christian devotional books used to pray at certain hours. oregonlive, 14 May 2022 Hell was completely real for people in medieval times. Vulture, 12 May 2022 The couple happily recounts afternoons spent ruffling through the Newberry Library’s medieval music manuscripts, or e-spelunking the digital holdings of the Vatican Library. Hannah Edgar,, 20 Apr. 2022 English literature, meanwhile, had a low survival rate, with 7 percent of medieval manuscripts and 38 percent of works surviving to the present. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Mar. 2022
The show has three sections — medieval, Asian and paleontology — and includes artifacts such as a full-sized Chinese dragon costume and hands-on activities such as a fossil dig. Dallas News, 28 Dec. 2022 The women appear in profile: a frequent choice for Carpaccio, who favored static composition that can feel timeless, or even a little medieval. Jason Farago, New York Times, 9 Dec. 2022 Living here gives me easy access to places and experiences important to my intellectual hobbies as well: medieval, Roman, military and early Christian history. William Bache, WSJ, 14 Nov. 2022 Make your workout more medieval with this steel mace from Onnit. Mark Stock And Ebenezer Samuel, Men's Health, 2 Dec. 2022 While there are individual fights to plan, episode six’s epic battle involving humans, elves and orcs, who use swords, bows and arrows, torches and all manner of medieval-looking implements, obviously takes a great deal of planning and practice. Zoe Hewitt, Variety, 17 Nov. 2022 The storybook castle sits behind a stone wall and comes with its own medieval-looking tower. Dana Givens, Robb Report, 14 Nov. 2022 On Greenwood Lake, the unusual property sits behind a stone wall and has a medieval-looking tower and rooftop battlements. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, 9 Nov. 2022 Queen Elizabeth II will lie in state at London’s medieval Westminster Hall until her funeral on Monday. USA TODAY, 16 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

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 9 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on medieval

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