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 Putting aside Mr Cote’s success at Honeywell, their performance relative to the broader stockmarket was mediocre, though. The Economist, "Schumpeter The last GE Man," 11 Jan. 2020 There’s plenty of dishing throughout: Angela Davis misunderstood I, Tituba; the Calabash Literary Festival is mediocre. Julian Lucas, Harper's magazine, "New Books," 6 Jan. 2020 Yet thanks to mediocre play of the front-running Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles are just a game out of first place in the NFC East. oregonlive, "Philadelphia Eagles vs Miami Dolphins: Live score updates, TV channel, how to watch free live stream online," 1 Dec. 2019 Pregame analysis: Quarterback Philip Rivers has been ordinary this season, and the Chargers running game has stalled out because of mediocre offensive line play. Dan Wiederer,, "3 keys revisited after the Bears fell apart in unthinkable fashion in Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Chargers," 27 Oct. 2019 The division has experienced so many losses, so much mediocre play, so many confounding performances that: Every team has multiple conference losses. Jon Wilner Pac-12 Hotline, The Seattle Times, "Pac-12 Power Rankings: Is WSU’s win over Oregon enough to overtake Washington?," 22 Oct. 2018 Avoiding a first-round matchup against Golden State or Houston would be ideal for the Pelicans, but their mediocre play has made that result seem inevitable. William Guillory,, "Are the Pelicans looking to make a move on the trade market?," 8 Jan. 2018 But some observers fear these journals enable a proliferation of mediocre or flawed research. Jeffrey Brainard, Science | AAAS, "Articles in ‘predatory journals’ receive few or no citations," 7 Jan. 2020 There’s been much to-do about the service’s content warnings, offering explanations for outdated cultural depictions in older films like Dumbo and Peter Pan, but alerts for cheap and mediocre offerings are nowhere to be found. Wired, "Not Everything in Disney's Vault Is as Good as You Remember," 4 Dec. 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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Time Traveler for mediocre

Time Traveler

The first known use of mediocre was circa 1586

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Statistics for mediocre

Last Updated

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Mediocre.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for mediocre


How to pronounce mediocre (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mediocre

: not very good


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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