medium, moderate, oraverage in size, quantity, or quality: The returns on such a large investment may be only middling.
mediocre; ordinary; commonplace; pedestrian: The restaurant's entrées are no better than middling.
Older Use. in fairly good health.
moderately; fairly.
middlings, any of various products or commodities of intermediate quality, grade, size, etc., as the coarser particles of ground wheat mingled with bran.
Often, middlings. Also called middling meat. Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. salt pork or smoked side meat.

1375–1425; late Middle English (north). See mid1, -ling2

middlingly, adverb
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equally distant from the extremes or outer limits; central: the middle point of a line; the middle singer in a trio.
intermediate or intervening: the middle distance.
medium or average: a man of middle size.
(initial capital letter) (in the history of a language) intermediate between periods classified as Old and New or Modern: Middle English.
Grammar. (in some languages) noting a voice of verb inflection in which the subject is represented as acting on or for itself, in contrast to the active voice in which the subject acts, and the passive voice in which the subject is acted upon, as in Greek, egrapsámēn “I wrote for myself,” égrapsa “I wrote,” egráphēn “I was written.”
(often initial capital letter) Stratigraphy. noting the division intermediate between the upper and lower divisions of a period, system, or the like: the Middle Devonian.
the point, part, position, etc., equidistant from extremes or limits.
the central part of the human body, especially the waist: He gave him a punch in the middle.
something intermediate; mean.
(in farming) the ground between two rows of plants.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), middled, middling.
Chiefly Nautical. to fold in half.

before 900; Middle English, Old English middel; cognate with German mittel; akin to Old Norse methal among. See mid1

1. equidistant, halfway, medial, midway. 7. midpoint. Middle, center, midst indicate something from which two or more other things are (approximately or exactly) equally distant. Middle denotes, literally or figuratively, the point or part equidistant from or intermediate between extremes or limits in space or in time: the middle of a road. Center a more precise word, is ordinarily applied to a point within circular, globular, or regular bodies, or wherever a similar exactness appears to exist: the center of the earth; it may also be used metaphorically (still suggesting the core of a sphere): center of interest. Midst usually suggests that a person or thing is closely surrounded or encompassed on all sides, especially by that which is thick or dense: the midst of a storm.

1. extreme. 7. extremity.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
middle (ˈmɪdəl)
1.  equally distant from the ends or periphery of something; central
2.  intermediate in status, situation, etc
3.  located between the early and late parts of a series, time sequence, etc
4.  not extreme, esp in size; medium
5.  active Compare passive (esp in Greek and Sanskrit grammar) denoting a voice of verbs expressing reciprocal or reflexive action
6.  (usually capital) (of a language) intermediate between the earliest and the modern forms: Middle English
7.  an area or point equal in distance from the ends or periphery or in time between the early and late parts
8.  an intermediate part or section, such as the waist
9.  grammar the middle voice
10.  logic See middle term
11.  the ground between rows of growing plants
12.  a discursive article in a journal, placed between the leading articles and the book reviews
13.  cricket a position on the batting creases in alignment with the middle stumps on which a batsman may take guard
14.  to place in the middle
15.  nautical to fold in two
16.  football to return (the ball) from the wing to midfield
17.  cricket to hit (the ball) with the middle of the bat
[Old English middel; compare Old Frisian middel, Dutch middel, German mittel]

middling (ˈmɪdlɪŋ)
1.  mediocre in quality, size, etc; neither good nor bad, esp in health (often in the phrase fair to middling)
2.  informal moderately: middling well
[C15 (northern English and Scottish): from mid1 + -ling²]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. middel, from W.Gmc. *middila (cf. M.L.G., Du. middel), from P.Gmc. *medjaz (see mid). Middle age "period between youth and old age" is attested from late 14c.; middle aged first recorded c.1600. Middle name first attested 1835, Amer.Eng. Middlebrow first recorded 1925.
Middle management is 1957. Middle-of-the-road in the figurative sense is attested from 1894; in old times, edges of the dirt road could be washed out and thus less safe.

1456, from Scottish mydlyn, from M.E. middle + suffix -ing. Used to designate the second of three grades of goods.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see fair to middling.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
There are in a pound upwards of four thousand pins of a middling size.
Unfortunately, the studded interior of this sleeve is more middling than
The pattern is a few years of middling profits, then one carrier goes bankrupt
  with huge losses.
But the quality of its universities and education system remains middling to
Idioms & Phrases
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