Of ordinary or undistinguished quality. See Synonyms at average.
[French médiocre, from Latin mediocris : medius, middle; see medhyo- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + ocris, a rugged mountain; see ak- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
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."
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