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

So, the Sounders, like those Giants, now get to define whether their season will be a mediocre one interrupted by a streak. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, "Sounders alone will define what their post-record winning streak legacy will be," 25 Sep. 2018 His postulation that a second- or third-place finish at the Olympics was mediocre — but only for the women — underscored a belief that women’s victories were substandard. Tate Royer, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: The biggest fight facing the U.S. women’s soccer team isn’t on the field," 14 June 2019 Sometimes being mediocre is what gets you to the top. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Rapper Nav's 'Bad Habits' is a hit album. But Nav's Milwaukee show was just bad.," 8 June 2019 The resulting pattern can be strong performance in the early years, but a more mediocre result later on. The Economist, "Troubles at the Woodford investment group point to a wider trend," 6 June 2019 Would such an idea be considered if Heimlich were mediocre with little potential? Vahe Gregorian, kansascity, "The Royals are considering trying to sign Luke Heimlich. Here's why they shouldn't," 25 June 2018 However, its overall cooking performance was only mediocre. The Good Housekeeping Institute, Good Housekeeping, "Zwilling J. A. Henckels Aurora 5-Ply Stainless Steel Cookware," 5 July 2016 New York was at the bottom of an AFC East that other than New England is mediocre. Barry Wilner, The Seattle Times, "Jets owner jokingly envisions self wearing Lombardi Trophy," 24 Mar. 2019 After a brief stint in college, Bertie spent some time in military training with mediocre results, much to his parents' dismay. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "What Was Queen Victoria Like as a Mother?," 13 Jan. 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.

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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

Statistics for mediocre

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 How to pronounce mediocre (audio) \

Kids Definition of mediocre

: not very good That restaurant is just mediocre.

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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

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