Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of medium size, position, or quality.
  • adj. Mediocre. See Synonyms at average.
  • n. Chiefly Southern U.S. Pork or bacon cut from between the ham and shoulder of a pig. Often used in the plural.
  • n. Chiefly Southern U.S. Salt pork. Also called middling meat.
  • n. Any of various products, such as partially refined petroleum or ore, that are intermediate in quality, size, price, or grade.
  • n. Coarsely ground wheat mixed with bran.
  • adv. Informal Fairly; moderately: "a middling nice cake” ( Hatfield MA Valley Advocate).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of intermediate or average size, position, or quality; mediocre
  • adj. In fairly good health.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of middle rank, state, size, or quality; about equally distant from the extremes; medium; moderate; mediocre; ordinary.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Medium in rank, condition, or degree; intermediate; hence, only medium; neither good nor bad; neither one thing nor the other: as, a fruit of middling quality.
  • Not in good health, yet not very ill; also, in Scotland, in fairly good health.
  • Of medium quality: a specific commercial grade of flour, pork, etc. See fair to middling, under fair.
  • n. The part of a gun-stock between the grasp and the tail-pipe or ramrod-thimble.
  • n. That part of a hog which lies between the ham and the shoulder; a side of bacon.
  • n. plural In milling, the parts of a kernel of grain next the skin of the berry, largely composed of gluten and considered the most nutritious part.
  • n. plural The coarser particles resulting from milling, intermingled with a certain quantity of bran and foreign matters,used as feed for farm stock; canaille.
  • Tolerably; moderately.
  • n. plural The finest kind of wheat bran.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any commodity of intermediate quality or size (especially when coarse particles of ground wheat are mixed with bran)
  • adj. lacking exceptional quality or ability
  • adv. to a moderately sufficient extent or degree

Etymologies

Probably Middle English midlin : mid, mid; see mid1 + -ling, having a quality; see -ling1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • From domestic uneasiness a man has a thousand resources; in middling life, the tavern, in high life, the gaming-table, suspends the anxiety of thought.

    Letters for Literary Ladies: To Which is Added, An Essay on the Noble Science of Self-Justification

  • Joshua Rothkopf, senior film writer at Time Out New York, hands out a maximum of six stars (which unintentionally enables studios to label his middling recommendations as four-star reviews in ads).

    Let's Rate the Ranking Systems of Film Reviews

  • But just as well, let's have people with military experience; let's have people from all walks of life, people from the top-echelon schools but also people from junior colleges and the so-called middling schools -- that's the pageantry of America ...

    Russert Took Media Bias Seriously

  • Cases, again, which have to do with neither of these, and where the intention is not to get the hearer to do, or to pronounce judgment upon anything, but only to give him pleasure, occupy as it were a middle place between the former two, and are on that account called middling, or moderate.

    On Christian Doctrine, in Four Books

  • This far, Team Obama has tried to tweak a middling message, at times a day late and a dollar short.

    Thestar.com - Home Page

  • Among what may be termed the middling classes, I have been very much amused with the compound of vanity and ignorance which I have met with.

    Diary in America, Series Two

  • At the same time, American politics avoids the harsh truths of the world's historic transition towards a place with many competitors, other centers of power, and with reduced opportunity for what Benjamin Franklin called the middling people in America.

    Palestine Chronicle - Headlines

  • "It is so wrong to suggest that this is somehow some kind of middling improvement for the American people," he said.

    Aide: Obama believes tax on costly policies 'has some merit'

  • Lawrence Watt-Evans' Ethshar series is kind of middling magic; the talent needed to use a specific magic is pretty rare, but there are so many types of magic 8 to 15 depending on who you ask that a sizable percentage of the population has a talent for something.

    How Many Magicians?

  • At any rate, the release of Praire Wind gives me an opportunity to voice how much Neil Young's music has meant to me for a very long time, and, because of that, how much leeway I'm willing to give him when he produces an album that's maybe only "middling" rather than great.

    Music

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  • "CATHLEEN: Is the sea bad by the white rocks, Nora?
    NORA: Middling bad, God help us. There's a great roaring in the west, and it's worse it'll be getting when the tide's turned to the wind."
    - J. M. Synge, 'Riders to the Sea'.

    December 13, 2008