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

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 Johnson was a bright spot on a mediocre LSU team in 2021, passing for 2,815 yards and 27 touchdowns with just six interceptions before leaving via the transfer portal. Creg Stephenson |, al, 21 July 2022 Four days a week the Miami Marlins are a mediocre team hoping everything goes right to have a winning chance. Dave Hyde, Sun Sentinel, 9 July 2022 No one in the division would be able to stop them, and the defending American League champion Houston Astros watched star shortstop Carlos Correa flee to Minnesota to make a ton of money on a mediocre team. Paul Sullivan,, 4 Apr. 2022 The mediocre 9-8 team that Mike McDaniel inherited, which supposedly isn’t rebuilding, has high hopes of transforming into a perennial playoff contender. Omar Kelly,, 17 Mar. 2022 This seems a perfect time to find the best 2nd-place finisher in one of the obscure leagues and reward it with a bid normally given to a mediocre team from a shiny conference. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 10 Mar. 2022 After a humiliating 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night at Arena, the Lakers confirmed their identity as a mediocre team with major problems caused by serious mismanagement, and there is no easy solution in sight. Los Angeles Times, 21 Jan. 2022 Don’t let all the pomp and circumstance of Ben Roethlisberger’s grand finale deceive you; this is still a mediocre Pittsburgh team, probably the worst opponent the Ravens have faced since their losing streak started in Pittsburgh. Baltimore Sun Staff,, 8 Jan. 2022 The Lions were in an impossible spot against a mediocre team last week, and their roster is in almost as bad a shape against one of the NFL's best now. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, 20 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

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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The first known use of mediocre was circa 1586

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Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Mediocre.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for mediocre


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on mediocre

Nglish: Translation of mediocre for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mediocre for Arabic Speakers


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