mediocre

adjective
me·​di·​o·​cre | \ ˌmē-dē-ˈō-kər How to pronounce mediocre (audio) \

Definition of mediocre

: of moderate or low quality, value, ability, or performance : ordinary, so-so

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The Enduring Moderation of Mediocre

One of the things that is remarkable about mediocre is the extent to which it has retained its meaning over the course of more than four centuries of continual use. The word, when used as an adjective, has changed very little, if at all, in its meaning since it was used in a 1586 book titled The English Secretorie (our earliest known evidence): “Mediocre, a meane betwixt high and low, vehement and slender, too much and too little as we saye. . . .” The word comes to English via Middle French from the Latin word mediocris, meaning "of medium size, moderate, middling, commonplace," and perhaps originally "halfway to the top." The noun form of mediocre is mediocrity.

Examples of mediocre in a Sentence

They sensed that mediocre students like Roosevelt really did possess a set of virtues that needed to be protected and cherished. — David Brooks, New York Times Book Review, 6 Nov. 2005 Of course, it could be that what Wesley has been through steeled his nerves and transformed him from a mediocre point guard into one of the fiercest shooters in the league with the game on the line. — Chad Millman, ESPN, 14 May 2001 In short, they'd have to build a first-rate health-care system out of the shantytown's mediocre one—a system that would administer those drugs reliably and keep the patients' spirits up, because the second-line drugs are weak and have unpleasant side effects, which a patient has to endure for as much as two years. — Tracy Kidder, New Yorker, 10 July 2000 The dinner was delicious, but the dessert was mediocre. The carpenter did a mediocre job. The critics dismissed him as a mediocre actor.
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Recent Examples on the Web In other walks of life, people who are mediocre at their jobs can still be respected for some of their other qualities. Los Angeles Times, 2 June 2021 The show continued for two more seasons (which are decent but in a big shadow), and Fox did a remake (which was mediocre even with Tennant’s involvement). Brian Tallerico, Vulture, 1 June 2021 Perhaps the Wizards are tired of merely being mediocre and decide to shop Bradley Beal? Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 May 2021 Despite mediocre reviews of Elon Musk’s SNL performance, the Tesla CEO sent dogecoin on a wild ride. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, 10 May 2021 My research has found that approximately 80% of teams in organizations are mediocre, 19% are good and only 1% are truly accountable. Vince Molinaro, Forbes, 5 May 2021 Smith has been mediocre, at best, the last two seasons, while the primary complaint about LVE is his availability. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, 4 May 2021 The app struggled with mediocre content reviews and the departure of its head of brand and content marketing shortly after its launch. Frank Pallotta And Clare Duffy, CNN, 21 Oct. 2020 How well would Google’s mediocre doctor reviews do in search results where Google doesn’t have its thumb on the scale? Washington Post, 19 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mediocre.' 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 mediocre

circa 1586, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mediocre

borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Latin mediocris "of medium size, moderate, middling, commonplace," perhaps originally "halfway to the top," from medius "middle, central" + -ocris, adjective derivative from the base of Old Latin ocris "rugged mountain," going back to Indo-European *h2oḱ-r-i- "point, peak, edge" (whence also Umbrian ukar, ocar "citadel," Middle Irish ochair "edge, border," Welsh ochr, Greek ókris "top, point, corner"), derivative of *h2eḱ- "pointed" — more at mid entry 1, edge entry 1

Note: The base *h2oḱ-r-i- forms a pair with *h2eḱ-r- "sharp, pointed" (see acro-) and the two have been explained as part of an original "acrostatic" paradigm of a noun, with fixed stress on the root, o-vocalism in the direct cases and e-vocalism in the oblique cases, with Indo-European daughter languages generalizing one form or another. Note that Greek has both ókris, as above, and ákris "hilltop, mountain peak." Perhaps also belonging here is Sanskrit aśri- "corner, angle, edge" (see at acro-), where the vowel may be either *a or *o.

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Learn More About mediocre

Time Traveler for mediocre

Time Traveler

The first known use of mediocre was circa 1586

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Statistics for mediocre

Last Updated

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mediocre.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mediocre. Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for mediocre

mediocre

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of mediocre

: not very good

mediocre

adjective
me·​di·​o·​cre | \ ˌmē-dē-ˈō-kər How to pronounce mediocre (audio) \

Kids Definition of mediocre

: not very good That restaurant is just mediocre.

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