Middle English

Middle English

noun
the English language of the period c1150–c1475. Abbreviation: ME

Origin:
1830–40

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Middle English
 
n
Old English Compare Modern English ME the English language from about 1100 to about 1450: main dialects are Kentish, Southwestern (West Saxon), East Midland (which replaced West Saxon as the chief literary form and developed into Modern English), West Midland, and Northern (from which the Scots of Lowland Scotland and other modern dialects developed)

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Middle English definition


The English language from about 1150 to about 1500. During this time, following the Norman Conquest of England, the native language of England — Old English — borrowed great numbers of words from the Norman French of the conquerors. Middle English eventually developed into modern English.

Note: Many of the writings in Middle English that have survived have word forms very different from those in modern English; today's readers of English cannot understand the language of these works without training. Some dialects of Middle English, however, resemble modern English, and a good reader of today can catch the drift of something written in them. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales in one of these dialects.
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