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Medium vs Middling vs Mediocre vs Second-rate vs Moderate vs Average vs Fair vs Indifferent

Mediummiddlingmediocresecond-ratemoderateaveragefairindifferent mean midway, or about midway, between the extremes of a scale or measurement or evaluation.

Medium usually presupposes reference to some scale of measurement or comparison, whether by literal use of an instrument, or through mental power of measuring or gauging attained by experience.

Middling is seldom used when accurate measurement or gradation is implied; it is employed chiefly in estimations (as of quality, rank, or value) to describe what is as far removed from the worst or lowest as it is from the best or highest. It may appropriately describe something that fails to measure up to the best or the first rate yet does not merit disapproval or rejection.

In commercial use middling sometimes specifically designates the second of three grades.

Mediocre tends to be more depreciative than middling; thus, one who describes a moving picture as middling implies that it was good, but far from excellent, but one who describes it as mediocre gives ground for the inference that it was distinctly less than what one might call good. Often the word is modified by an adverb of degree.

Second-rate implies a ranking midway between extremes regarded as first-rate and as third-rate.

Frequently second-rate loses all suggestion of a position on a scale of rating and then connotes inferiority and is used interchangeably with mediocre.

Moderate (see also MODERATE 1 ) stresses limitations in quality, intensity, or degree; it implies distance from the extreme or from either of the extremes possible to a thing of its kind.

Average (see also under AVERAGE ) implies a theoretical level at which all things of a given kind, class, or category would find themselves or would seek, if their inequalities were resolved.

However the term is applied more often to what seems of the common run or is undistinguished either by its superiority or its inferiority, or is not exceptional or outstanding in any way; thus, a man of average ability seems to have neither greater nor less ability than that of the ordinary man.

Fair is applied to what is neither notably good nor bad, excellent nor poor, large nor small; often, only the context can reveal whether the implication is one of adequacy or of deficiency.

Indifferent is applied to what is difficult to rate because it is completely unimpressive, warranting neither praise nor censure.