1580s, "of moderate degree or quality, neither good nor bad," from French médiocre (16c.), from Latin mediocris "of middling height or state, moderate, ordinary," figuratively "mediocre, mean, inferior," literally "halfway up a mountain," from medius "middle" (from PIE root *medhyo- "middle") + ocris "jagged mountain" (cognate with Greek okris "peak, point," Welsh ochr "corner, border," Latin acer "sharp;" from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce"). As a noun, "mediocre thing or person," by 1834.
c. 1400, mediocrite, "moderation; intermediate state or amount," from Latin mediocritatem (nominative mediocritas) "a middle state, middling condition, medium," from mediocris "of middling height or state, moderate, ordinary," figuratively "mediocre, mean, inferior," literally "halfway up a mountain" (see mediocre). Neutral at first; disparaging sense "quality of being moderate or middling in ability, accomplishment, etc." began to predominate from late 16c. The meaning "person of mediocre abilities or attainments" is from 1690s. Before the tinge of disparagement crept in, another name for the Golden Mean was golden mediocrity.
It forms all or part of: amid; intermediate; mean (adj.2) "occupying a middle or intermediate place;" medal; medial; median; mediate; medieval; mediocre; Mediterranean; medium; meridian; mesic; mesial; meso-; meson; Mesopotamia; Mesozoic; mezzanine; mezzo; mezzotint; mid (prep., adj.); middle; Midgard; midriff; midst; midwife; milieu; minge; mizzen; moiety; mullion.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit madhyah, Avestan madiya- "middle," Greek mesos, Latin medius "in the middle, between; from the middle," Gothic midjis, Old English midd "middle," Old Church Slavonic medzu "between," Armenian mej "middle."
It forms all or part of: acacia; acanthus; accipiter; acer; acerbic; acerbity; acervate; acervulus; acescent; acetic; acid; acicular; acme; acne; acrid; acridity; acrimony; acro-; acrobat; acromegaly; acronym; acrophobia; acropolis; acrostic; acrylic; acuity; aculeate; acumen; acupressure; acupuncture; acute; aglet; ague; Akron; anoxic; awn; coelacanth; dioxin; deoxy-; eager; ear (n.2) "grain part of corn;" edge (n.); egg (v.) "to goad on, incite;" eglantine; epoxy; ester; exacerbation; hammer; hypoxia; mediocre; oxalic; oxide; oxy-; oxygen; oxymoron; paragon; pyracanth; paroxysm; selvage; vinegar.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek akros "at the end, at the top, outermost; consummate, excellent," akis "sharp point," akros "at the farthest point, highest, outermost," akantha "thorn," akme "summit, edge," oxys "sharp, bitter;" Sanskrit acri- "corner, edge," acani- "point of an arrow," asrih "edge;" Oscan akrid (ablative singular) "sharply;" Latin acer (fem. acris) "sharp to the senses, pungent, bitter, eager, fierce," acutus "sharp, pointed," acuere "to sharpen," acerbus "harsh, bitter," acere "be sharp, be bitter," acus "a needle, pin," ocris "jagged mountain;" Lithuanian ašmuo "sharpness," akstis "sharp stick;" Old Lithuanian aštras, Lithuanian aštrus "sharp;" Old Church Slavonic ostru, Russian óstryj "sharp;" Old Irish er "high;" Welsh ochr "edge, corner, border;" Old Norse eggja "goad;" Old English ecg "sword;" German Eck "corner."
"act or process of rendering mediocre," by 1917 (Will Durant), noun of state or action from mediocritize.
cartoon mouse character created 1928 by U.S. animator Walt Disney (1901-1966). As an adjective meaning "small and worthless, petty, inconsequential" it was in use by 1951, perhaps from the popularity of the cheaply made Mickey Mouse wristwatch; it was used by 1935 in reference to mediocre dance-band music, based on the type of tunes played as background in cartoon films.
Half-wits are fleas; so little and so light,
We scarce could know they live, but that they bite.
[Dryden, "All for Love"]
Phrase out of half wit "half out of one's mind" was in Middle English (late 14c.). Half-witted "lacking common sense" is from 1640s.
by 1926, "mediocre prizefighter," of unknown origin, credited to U.S. sportswriter and Variety magazine staffer Jack "Con" Conway (1898-1928), who might at least have popularized it. Non-boxing sense of "average person" is from Joe Palooka, hero of Ham Fisher's boxing-themed comic strip, which debuted in 1930.