mediocrity

noun
me·​di·​oc·​ri·​ty | \ ˌmē-dē-ˈä-krə-tē How to pronounce mediocrity (audio) \
plural mediocrities

Definition of mediocrity

1a : the quality or state of being mediocre came to terms with his mediocrity
b : moderate ability or value fed up with the mediocrity of the local schools
2 : a mediocre person a most intelligent middle-aged mediocrity— Oscar Wilde

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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.

Did You Know?

People interested in words always point out that mediocrity doesn't mean quite what its main root would indicate: Why doesn't it describe something that's right in the middle of the pack, exactly what you would expect? Instead the words mediocrity and mediocre always suggest disappointment. A mediocre play is one you wish you hadn't wasted an evening on, and the mediocre actor in it should probably find another profession. A person can even be called a mediocrity, though it isn't very nice and you'd never do it to his face.

Examples of mediocrity in a Sentence

We were disappointed by the mediocrity of the wine. He thought that he was a brilliant artist himself and that all his fellow painters were just mediocrities.

Recent Examples on the Web

The show's drift into mediocrity is a shame, especially since it was initially held up as a breakthrough for women in front of and -- with Arnold's hiring -- behind the camera. Lorraine Ali, chicagotribune.com, "‘Big Little Lies’: How Meryl Streep redeems a mediocre season," 15 July 2019 The show’s drift into mediocrity is a shame, especially since it was initially held up as a breakthrough for women in front of and — with Arnold’s hiring — behind the camera. Lorraine Ali, latimes.com, "'Big Little Lies': How Meryl Streep redeems a mediocre season," 14 July 2019 No one ever has managed to reduce Federer to mid-match mediocrity quite the way Nadal can on occasion, part of why the Spaniard entered Friday with a 24-15 overall lead head-to-head, including 10-3 at Grand Slam tournaments. Howard Fendrich, The Denver Post, "11 years later, Federer tops Nadal in Wimbledon semifinals," 12 July 2019 But Tennessee has been stuck on a Möbius strip of mediocrity after finishing the last three seasons at 9-7, and the former No. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "50 things to know about NFL teams' training camps in 2019," 15 July 2019 His team’s continued mediocrity seemed to be weighing heavily into Mike Hazen’s decision-making process, but the Diamondbacks’ general manager wasn’t ready to proclaim his club an outright seller on Monday afternoon. Nick Piecoro, azcentral, "Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen: Recent play forcing team to ‘consider all options’," 22 July 2019 As often happens in such juried selection processes, the pleasant, inoffensive median candidates, those nobody hated but nobody particularly liked, usually end up being chosen, insuring a cinematic future of competent mediocrity. Peter Keough, BostonGlobe.com, "Doc Talk: Endless love, film school confidential, kind of a drag," 3 July 2019 Now, mediocrity is probably the best possible scenario in the win column. Neil Greenberg, The Denver Post, "The Knicks struck out in free agency, then screwed themselves into the ground," 1 July 2019 But the moves that paved the way, and helped make the push for McCoy were a message from Hurney, head coach Ron Rivera and from each player who helped persuade him to come to Carolina: Goodbye, mediocrity. Jourdan Rodrigue, charlotteobserver, "Addition of McCoy makes Panthers a true contender, arriving at the perfect time," 3 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mediocrity.' 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 mediocrity

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for mediocrity

Middle English mediokerte, mediocrite "moderation, medium size or amount," borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French mediocrité "intermediate state," borrowed from Latin mediocritāt-, mediocritās "moderateness of size or amount, intermediate character, limited ability," from mediocris "of medium size, moderate, mediocre" + -itāt-, -itās -ity

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Statistics for mediocrity

Last Updated

22 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for mediocrity

The first known use of mediocrity was in 1588

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More Definitions for mediocrity

mediocrity

noun

English Language Learners Definition of mediocrity

: the quality of something that is not very good : the quality or state of being mediocre
: a person who does not have the special ability to do something well

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More from Merriam-Webster on mediocrity

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mediocrity

Spanish Central: Translation of mediocrity

Nglish: Translation of mediocrity for Spanish Speakers

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