"the sea between southern Europe and northern Africa," c. 1400, from Late Latin Mediterraneum mare "Mediterranean Sea" (7c.), from Latin mediterraneus "midland;" the original sense being of "sea in the middle of the earth," from medius "middle" (from PIE root *medhyo- "middle") + terra "land, earth" (from PIE root *ters- "to dry"). The Old English name was Wendel-sæ, so called for the Vandals, Germanic tribe that settled on the southwest coast of it after the fall of Rome. The noun meaning "a person of Mediterranean race" is from 1888.
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