[ mee-dee-ok-ruh-see ]
/ ˌmi diˈɒk rə si /
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noun, plural me·di·oc·ra·cies.
government or rule by a mediocre person or group.
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Origin of mediocracy

Blend of mediocre and -cracy
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does mediocracy mean?

Where does mediocracy come from?

The first recorded use of mediocracy comes from an 1845 Whig Party resolution referring to the administration of President James K. Polk as a “reign of shuffling incompetency and mousing mediocracy” (the Whigs would have won Twitter, apparently). Mediocracy is a blend of mediocre and the Greek root -cracy, meaning “rule,” “government,” or “governing body” (as in democracy and aristocracy). Mediocre comes from the Latin mediocris, meaning “in a middle state” (literally “at middle height”).

Just as an aristocracy is a government run by aristocrats, a mediocracy is a government of leaders considered mediocre—unexceptional or inferior. The defining feature of a mediocracy is that those in power lack the quality or skill that is normally expected of leaders. The term is most often used in political commentary to refer to governments considered incompetent or ineffective. It can also be applied to organizations outside of government, such as businesses, as in After the original leadership team was fired, standards were lowered across the board and this place turned into a mediocracy. 

Mediocracy isn’t only the negative label for unfavorable governments. It is similar to terms like kakistocracy (rule by the worst) and kleptocracy (rule by thieves).

Mediocracy is rarely used. For that reason, it may be mistaken for the word mediocrity, which means “the quality or state of being mediocre.”

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to mediocracy?

  • mediocracies (plural)

What are some words that share a root or word element with mediocracy

What are some words that often get used in discussing mediocracy?


What are some words mediocracy may be commonly confused with?



How is mediocracy used in real life?

Mediocracy is most commonly used in a political context to criticize a leader or an administration as being unqualified, incompetent, ineffective, or just plain bad.


Try using mediocracy!

Is mediocracy used correctly in the following sentence? 

If you want to achieve greatness, you can’t settle for mediocracy.

How to use mediocracy in a sentence

  • The class that lies on the grass is more sociable; they are free from (p. 203) a thousand tyrannies that oppress the mediocracy.

  • How could such facts be understood unless we had previously taken that rapid glance at the Mediocracy.

    Sons of the Soil|Honore de Balzac
  • He was cousin of the miller and cousin of the Sarcuses, and belonged therefore to the neighborhood and to its mediocracy.

    Sons of the Soil|Honore de Balzac