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[mid-l] /ˈmɪd l/
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 or without object), middled, middling.
Chiefly Nautical. to fold in half.
Origin of middle
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for middle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • At Fortieth Street he looked down to the middle of the block.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • When he rejoined her in the middle of the room he gave her the key.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • Omar Ben Sufi sat down in the middle of the street, and wondered.

    A Night Out Edward Peple
  • He was met halfway by a tall, strong man of middle age or more.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • And accordingly, when he wakened in the middle of the night, he was alert on the instant.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
British Dictionary definitions for middle


equally distant from the ends or periphery of something; central
intermediate in status, situation, etc
located between the early and late parts of a series, time sequence, etc
not extreme, esp in size; medium
(esp in Greek and Sanskrit grammar) denoting a voice of verbs expressing reciprocal or reflexive action Compare active (sense 5), passive (sense 5)
(usually capital) (of a language) intermediate between the earliest and the modern forms: Middle English
an area or point equal in distance from the ends or periphery or in time between the early and late parts
an intermediate part or section, such as the waist
(grammar) the middle voice
(logic) See middle term
the ground between rows of growing plants
a discursive article in a journal, placed between the leading articles and the book reviews
(cricket) a position on the batting creases in alignment with the middle stumps on which a batsman may take guard
verb (transitive)
to place in the middle
(nautical) to fold in two
(football) to return (the ball) from the wing to midfield
(cricket) to hit (the ball) with the middle of the bat
Word Origin
Old English middel; compare Old Frisian middel, Dutch middel, German mittel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for middle

Old English middel, from West Germanic *middila (cf. Old Frisian middel, Old Saxon middil, Middle Low German, Dutch middel, Old High German mittil, German mittel), from Proto-Germanic *medjaz (see mid). Middle name attested from 1815; as "one's outstanding characteristic," colloquial, from 1911, American English.

According to Mr. H.A. Hamilton, in his "Quarter Sessions from Queen Elizabeth," the practice of giving children two Christian names was unknown in England before the period of the Stuarts, was rarely adopted down to the time of the Revolution, and never became common until after the Hanoverian family was seated on the throne. "In looking through so many volumes of county records," he says, "I have, of course, seen many thousands and tens of thousands of proper names, belonging to men of all ranks and degrees,--to noblemen, justices, jurymen, witnesses, sureties, innkeepers, hawkers, paupers, vagrants, criminals, and others,--and in no single instance, down to the end of the reign of Anne, have I noticed any person bearing more than one Christian name ...." [Walsh]
Middle school 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 is 1957. Middle-of-the-road in the figurative sense is attested from 1894; edges of a dirt road can be washed out and thus less safe. Middle finger so called from c.1000.


Old English middel, from middle (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with middle
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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