middle (adj.)

Old English middel, "equally distant from extremes or limits; intermediate," from Proto-West Germanic *midla- (source also of Old Frisian middel, Old Saxon middil, Middle Low German, Dutch middel, Old High German mittil, German mittel), from Proto-Germanic *medj, from PIE root *medhyo- "middle."

Middle finger "the third finger" (counting the thumb as the first)  so called from late Old English. Middle school is attested from 1838, originally "middle-class school, school for middle-class children;" the sense in reference to a school for grades between elementary and high school is from 1960. Middle management, the level below senior management, is by 1941.

Middle-of-the-road in the figurative sense is attested from 1894, originally political; edges of a dirt road can be washed out and thus are less safe, but the notion here probably is of the middle as "less exposed to ambush." Middle way in the figurative sense of "path of moderation" is from c. 1200. Middle ground as "place of moderation or compromise between extremes" is by 1961. Middle-sized "of medium size" is by 1620s.

In U.S. history, the Middle States (1784) were those between New England and the South (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware). Middle America for "the 'silent majority,' the generally conservative middle class regarded as a homogeneous group" is by 1968.

middle (n.)

"point or part equally distant from the extremes, limits, or extremities," Old English middel, from middle (adj.). As "middle part of the human body" in Old English. From c. 1300 as "the second of three."

updated on January 21, 2019

Definitions of middle from WordNet
middle (n.)
an area that is approximately central within some larger region;
Synonyms: center / centre / heart / eye
middle (n.)
an intermediate part or section; "A whole is that which has beginning, middle, and end"- Aristotle;
middle (n.)
the middle area of the human torso (usually in front);
Synonyms: midriff / midsection
middle (n.)
time between the beginning and the end of a temporal period;
rain during the middle of April
the middle of the war
middle (adj.)
equally distant from the extremes;
Synonyms: center / halfway / midway
middle (adj.)
being neither at the beginning nor at the end in a series;
the middle point on a line
Synonyms: in-between / mediate
middle (adj.)
of a stage in the development of a language or literature between earlier and later stages;
middle (adj.)
between an earlier and a later period of time;
in his middle thirties
in the middle years
middle (v.)
put in the middle;
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