me·​di·​e·​val | \ˌmē-ˈdē-vəl, mi-, ˌme-, -dē-ˈē-vəl\
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


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

This year, the exhibit will be housed in the Anna Wintour Costume Center and the medieval galleries at the museum’s main location; some of the exhibit will also be housed in at the Met’s Cloisters location, uptown. Cady Lang, Time, "Everything You Need to Know About the 2018 Met Gala, 'Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination'," 27 Apr. 2018 The old popular theaters, from the medieval times, were obscene actually. Allison Keyes, Smithsonian, "Illuminating the Shadowy Art of Armenian Puppet Theater," 13 July 2018 Both the classical and medieval worlds had their own balances, where science and religion inhabited the same intellectual space, offering together a holistic image of reality. David J. Davis, WSJ, "‘The Great Rift’ Review: From Comity to Culture War," 11 July 2018 The trouble is, human civilization has inherited ideas about being active and passive, especially from theistic medieval philosophy. Timothy Morton, The Atlantic, "The Hurricane in My Backyard," 8 July 2018 The gloves have spikes protruding from the fingers, like some sort of medieval torture device. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: USA Luge's search for next great Winter Olympian visits Indianapolis," 28 June 2018 One popular legend dates its origins to medieval times, a simple dish made with products on hand during wartime when Liguria was invaded by the Saracens. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "The Killer Dish: Pomo's focaccia di Recco probably isn't what you think," 20 June 2018 The grand tradition of Garter Day dates back to medieval times. Rose Minutaglio, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and Kate Middleton Weren't at the Order of the Garter Service," 18 June 2018 But underneath the market are the remains of the medieval Castle of San Jorge, the seat of the notorious Spanish Inquisition and now home to the Museum of Tolerance. New York Times, "36 Hours in Seville," 14 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Starting May 13 and for at least the rest of the month, the medieval Bled Castle will host an exposition on bees and beekeeping in the area. Jeanine Barone, New York Times, "Fall in Love With Bees on an ‘Apitourism’ Trip to Slovenia," 9 May 2018 The invite promises a weekend of bloodsports, but what Greer and the other invitees don't know is that the Medievals just might be hunting, shooting and fishing them over the next three days. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, "Fox 2000, Chernin Entertainment Pick Up Buzzy YA Novel 'S.T.A.G.S.' (Exclusive)," 8 May 2017

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


New Latin medium aevum Middle Ages


see medieval entry 1

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Statistics for medieval

Last Updated

24 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for medieval

The first known use of medieval was in 1817

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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

: 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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