average or below average in quality, ability, or achievement
Origin and usage
The word mediocre comes from the Latin word ‘mediocris’ meaning ‘moderate or ordinary’. The original meaning of that word was ‘halfway up a mountain’, combining the Latin words ‘medius’ meaning ‘middle’ and ‘ocris’ meaning ‘jagged mountain’. Mediocre first appeared in English in the 1580s.
Mediocre is a word that describes something ordinary or less than average. It is not generally a positive word. Saying that a person, thing or event is mediocre often suggests that it could be much better with a little more effort.
Many people and things can be described as mediocre. A company can have a mediocre employee, who only proffers minimal effort at work and is content to do a passable job with daily tasks. A mediocre book is OK, but not great. Many good teachers have been frustrated by the mediocre student, who seems happy with barely passing grades and cannot be motivated to study more in order to do better. Mediocre sports teams have infuriated fans for decades, as many are convinced the team could succeed if the players only tried harder. A mediocre television show might have been really good once, but now is just average.
The trouble with something or someone being mediocre is that it often encourages complacency – that is, maintaining things as they are rather than doing something drastic to change them. Mediocre is not very good, but it’s also not all that bad. Mediocre is just OK. There is usually very little motivation to grow or change or get better.
“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
poor, average, limited
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.
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