mediocre

adjective
me·di·o·cre | \ˌmē-dē-ˈō-kər \

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

Although Cal officials offered no official reason for the firing, their contracts were terminated amid mediocre team performance and slumping ticket sales. Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle, "Cal scrapped probe of football program promised after 2014 death of player," 31 May 2018 Instead, younger Reds had come to accept such mediocre performances as part and parcel of being a Liverpool fan - that being the regressive attitude inherited from the Roy Hodgson era at Anfield. SI.com, "Back From the Brink: How Liverpool Recovered From the Cusp of Mid-Table Mediocrity Under Roy Hodgson," 24 Apr. 2018 Conventional wisdom ascribes Taft’s mediocre performance to his weak political skills and passive personality, but Mr. Rosen also cites Taft’s philosophy of government. Gerard Helferich, WSJ, "‘William Howard Taft’ Review: Taking the Bully Out of the Pulpit," 19 Mar. 2018 The rhetorical overkill used to describe a mediocre but well-intentioned presidency was so over-the-top it was parodied in a famous Simpsons bit: Carter was a Republican bogeyman in 1988, and when Bill Clinton came along. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Poll: Barack Obama Was the Greatest President of Our Lifetime," 11 July 2018 This franchise has wasted so much time and even more talent investing in mediocre quarterbacks. Omar Kelly, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Kelly: A verdict on Ryan Tannehill is overdue | Commentary," 26 June 2018 There were too many in the market already, all trying to solve the same problem with a mediocre product. Bruce Schoenfeld, WIRED, "Your Next Glass of Wine Might Be a Fake—and You'll Love It," 30 May 2018 But Siena was merely mediocre in his tenure, going 77-92 overall and 47-51 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference games. Tim Reynolds, baltimoresun.com, "Siena men's basketball coach Jimmy Patsos resigns amid investigation into abuse," 13 Apr. 2018 But now this is a mediocre, aging team about to hire a new general manager to replace Rich Cho. Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "Dwight Howard hasn’t changed the Charlotte Hornets’ fortunes. Is it time for a trade? | Charlotte Observer," 1 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for mediocre

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for mediocre

The first known use of mediocre was circa 1586

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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 \

Kids Definition of mediocre

: not very good That restaurant is just mediocre.

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