adjective me·di·o·cre \ˌmē-dē-ˈō-kər\

Definition of mediocre

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

Examples of mediocre in a sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. The dinner was delicious, but the dessert was mediocre.

  5. The carpenter did a mediocre job.

  6. The critics dismissed him as a mediocre actor.

Why being halfway up a mountain is 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 from the Middle French, which took it from a Latin word meaning “halfway up a mountain” (mediocris). The noun form of mediocre is mediocrity.

Origin and Etymology of mediocre

Middle French, from Latin mediocris, from medius middle + Old Latin ocris stony mountain; akin to Latin acer sharp — more at edge

First Known Use: circa 1586

MEDIOCRE Defined for English Language Learners


adjective me·di·o·cre \ˌmē-dē-ˈō-kər\

Definition of mediocre for English Language Learners

  • : not very good

MEDIOCRE Defined for Kids


adjective me·di·o·cre \ˌmē-dē-ˈō-kər\

Definition of mediocre for Students

  1. :  not very good That restaurant is just mediocre.

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