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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

In totality, the assumption is the Bengals will have a sub-mediocre season. Tyler Dragon, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Bengals not bothered by low expectations from NFL media this season," 24 July 2019 As this gap has grown wider, America’s standing in international literacy rankings, already mediocre, has fallen. Natalie Wexler, The Atlantic, "Elementary Education Has Gone Terribly Wrong," 9 July 2019 One is to simply live with a mediocre education system. Jimmie Don Aycock, star-telegram, "Time for a reality check on public education," 9 May 2018 In the pool stages of the World Cup, England persisted with this approach, and failed to chase totals of 349 against Pakistan, 286 against Australia, and, most shockingly of all, 233 against a mediocre Sri Lanka side, on a minefield of a pitch. M.j., The Economist, "How England won the Cricket World Cup," 18 July 2019 The oddsmakers have the Texans pegged as a perfectly mediocre team in 2019, setting an over/under win total for Houston's team at 8.5. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Las Vegas' projected win totals for Texans, each NFL team," 18 July 2019 The oyster itself was nondescript, providing the only mediocre point of the meal. Lindsey Mcclave, The Courier-Journal, "This Old Louisville restaurant is the best in the city, our dining critic says," 17 July 2019 With a roster constructed of many relics from the franchise's championship years, Bumgarner and Smith not only represent the team's best chance to restock a mediocre farm system now, but for the next few seasons. The Si Staff, SI.com, "MLB Trade Deadline: Who's Facing the Most Pressure?," 17 July 2019 Compare that with the mediocre marks of the Ravens’ top three wide receivers last season: a 75.4 rating when targeting Willie Snead IV, 77.6 with John Brown and 74.0 with Michael Crabtree. Jonas Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, "Ravens 2019 training camp preview: Running back and fullback," 16 July 2019

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.

See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about mediocre

Statistics for mediocre

Last Updated

7 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mediocre

The first known use of mediocre was circa 1586

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on mediocre

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mediocre

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mediocre

Spanish Central: Translation of mediocre

Nglish: Translation of mediocre for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mediocre for Arabic Speakers

Comments on mediocre

What made you want to look up mediocre? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to shake or wave menacingly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!