me·di·o·cre (mē′dē-ō’kər)
adj. Of ordinary or undistinguished quality. See Synonyms at AVERAGE(Cf. ↑average).
[French médiocre, from Latin mediocris : medius, middle; see medhyo- + ocris, a rugged mountain; see ak-.]
Word History: Belying the very meaning of the word, the adjective mediocre has a remarkable and unexpected etymology. Mediocre ultimately comes from Latin mediocris, which meant "middling, ordinary, unremarkable." The Latin word in turn is a compound based on a rather concrete metaphor—we often find that abstract words are rooted in vivid comparisons when we trace the history of words back till we hit bedrock. In this case, the bedrock is a Latin word for "mountain." Mediocris is a compound of the adjective medius, "half" or "in the middle," and ocris, "rugged mountain." Something that is mediocre is only midway up a mountain or rises up to only half a mountain's height, as it were—the thing goes just halfway to the highest point of excellence. The resemblance between the Latin word medius and English words like middle and midway is no accident. They are all ultimately descended from the Proto-Indo-European word *medhyo-, "middle."

Word Histories. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • médiocre — [ medjɔkr ] adj. et n. • 1495; lat. mediocris, de medius « au milieu » 1 ♦ Vx Moyen. « sept personnes d une taille médiocre » (Buffon). 2 ♦ (XVIe) Qui est au dessous de la moyenne, qui est insuffisant en quantité ou en qualité. ⇒ petit .… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • mediocre — MEDIOCRE. adj. de tout genre. Qui est entre le grand & le petit, entre le bon & le mauvais. Une somme mediocre. un cheval de mediocre taille. faire mediocre chere. du vin mediocre. cela n est que mediocre. un esprit mediocre. une beauté mediocre …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • mediocre — me‧di‧o‧cre [ˌmiːdiˈəʊkə◂ ǁ ˈoʊkər◂] adjective not very good: • The business is now riding high, shaking off years of mediocre earnings. • Shares have had a mediocre year. * * * mediocre UK US /ˌmiːdiˈəʊkər/ adjective ► ordinary and not very good …   Financial and business terms

  • mediocre — adjetivo,sustantivo masculino y femenino 1. (antepuesto / pospuesto) Que es mediano, regular o no tiene un particular talento para nada: Llevo una vida mediocre. ¿Qué tiene de malo ser un mediocre? No podemos confiar en un mediocre político.… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • mediocre — (adj.) 1580s, from M.Fr. médiocre (16c.), from L. mediocris of middling height or state, moderate, ordinary, figuratively mediocre, mean, inferior, originally halfway up a mountain, from medius middle (see MEDIAL (Cf. medial) (adj.)) + ocris… …   Etymology dictionary

  • mediocre — me di*o cre (m[=e] d[i^]*[=o] k[ e]r), a. [F. m[ e]diocre, L. mediocris, fr. medius middle. See {Mid}.] Of a middle quality; of but a moderate or low degree of excellence; indifferent; ordinary. A very mediocre poet. Pope. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Mediocre — Me di*o cre, n. 1. A mediocre person; a mediocrity. [R.] [1913 Webster] 2. A young monk who was excused from performing a portion of a monk s duties. Shipley. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mediocre — /me djɔkre/ [dal lat. mediocris, der. di medius medio ]. ■ agg. 1. (lett., non com.) [che sta nel mezzo, che si trova in una posizione di mezzo: punto m. di un oggetto ] ▶◀ e ◀▶ [➨ medio agg. (1. a)]. 2. a. [che è inferiore alla me …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • medíocre — adj. 2 g. 1. Mediano; sofrível; meão; insignificante. • s. m. 2. O que é medíocre …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • mediocre — [mē΄dē ō′kər, mē′dē ō΄kər] adj. [Fr médiocre < L mediocris < medius, middle (see MID1) + ocris, a peak < IE base * ak̑ , sharp > L acer] 1. neither very good nor very bad; ordinary; average 2. not good enough; inferior …   English World dictionary

  • mediocre — I adjective acceptable, adequate, all right, average, banal, colorless, common, commonplace, decent, everyday, fair, fairish, good enough, inconsequential, indifferent, inferior, inglorious, insignificant, lesser, lifeless, low class, low grade,… …   Law dictionary

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