av·er·age (ăvər-ĭj, ăvrĭj)
a. A number that typifies a set of numbers of which it is a function.
b. See arithmetic mean.
a. An intermediate level or degree: near the average in size.
b. The usual or ordinary kind or quality: Although the wines vary, the average is quite good.
3. Sports The ratio of a team's or player's successful performances such as wins, hits, or goals, divided by total opportunities for successful performance, such as games, times at bat, or shots: finished the season with a .500 average; a batting average of .274.
a. The loss of a ship or cargo, caused by damage at sea.
b. The incurrence of damage or loss of a ship or cargo at sea.
c. The equitable distribution of such a loss among concerned parties.
d. A charge incurred through such a loss.
5. Nautical Small expenses or charges that are usually paid by the master of a ship.
1. Mathematics Of, relating to, or constituting an average.
2. Being intermediate between extremes, as on a scale: a movie of average length; a player of average ability.
3. Usual or ordinary in kind or character: a poll of average people; average eyesight.
4. Assessed in accordance with the law of averages.
v. av·er·aged, av·er·ag·ing, av·er·ag·es
1. Mathematics To calculate the average of: average a set of numbers.
2. To do or have an average of: averaged three hours of work a day.
3. To distribute proportionately: average one's income over four years so as to minimize the tax rate.
To be or amount to an average: Some sparrows are six inches long, but they average smaller. Our expenses averaged out to 45 dollars per day.
To purchase shares of the same security at successively lower prices in order to reduce the average price of one's position.
To purchase shares of the same security at successively higher prices in order to achieve a larger position at an average price that is lower than the current market value.
[Early Modern English, damage to a ship or its cargo, equitable distribution of the expenses from such damage, average, from Middle English, charge above the cost of freight, from Old French avarie, from Old Italian avaria, duty, from Arabic 'awārīya, damaged goods, from 'awār, blemish, from 'awira, to be damaged; see ʿwr in the Appendix of Semitic roots.]
Synonyms: average, medium, mediocre, middling, fair1, acceptable, indifferent, tolerable
These adjectives indicate a middle position on a scale of evaluation. Average and medium apply to what is midway between extremes and imply both sufficiency and lack of distinction: a novel of average merit; a digital recording of medium quality.
Mediocre and middling stress the undistinguished aspect of what is average: "The caliber of the students ... has gone from mediocre to above average" (Judy Pasternak). "Every writer creates weak, middling and strong work" (Frank Conroy).
What is fair or acceptable is satisfactory or moderately good but has room for improvement: a fair chance of winning; an acceptable grade on the test.
Indifferent means neither good nor bad and suggests a detached or resigned acceptance of such a status: "Burningham was an indifferent student at every school he attended ... and he preferred to be out of doors" (Andrea Cleghorn).
Something tolerable is good enough under the circumstances, but barely: "Tennyson ... suffered ... from illness fears, particularly of going blind, though he lived into his eighties with tolerable eyesight" (Carla Cantor).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.