Share this entry

Share this page

middle

Syllabification: mid·dle
Pronunciation: /ˈmidl
 
/

Definition of middle in English:

adjective

[attributive]
1At an equal distance from the extremities of something; central: the early and middle part of life middle and eastern Europe
More example sentences
  • When comparing flushes, the highest card is compared first, then if these are equal the middle card, and finally if necessary the lowest.
  • For many years, middle and long distance running has been the strong point of our sport with field events and sprinting being the poor relations.
  • Put simply, over the past quarter of a century he has become arguably the most successful coach in the history of middle and long distance running.
Synonyms
central, mid, mean, medium, medial, median, midway, halfway
1.1(Of a member of a group, series, or sequence) so placed as to have the same number of members on each side: the woman was in her middle forties
More example sentences
  • Each member of the team is credited with the time of the fifth team member to cross the finish line; this is the middle member of a nine-person team.
  • In their middle years, the members of the Baby Boom generation will face the inevitability of their mortality.
  • Denami, the middle brother, comes upon this bear and, thinking it killed the first brother, vows revenge.
1.2Intermediate in rank, quality, or ability: there is a dearth of talent at the middle level
More example sentences
  • When it comes to deprivation, Bexley sits fairly comfortably in the middle ranks of the country but the Government-compiled figures mask a harsh reality.
  • But the real discrimination was taking place in the middle ranks and that was where we had the hardest time.
  • One of the big challenges is to recruit from the middle ranks upwards.
Synonyms
1.3(Of a language) of the period between the old and modern forms: Middle High German
2 Grammar Denoting a voice of verbs in some languages, such as Greek, that expresses reciprocal or reflexive action.
Example sentences
  • I will argue that the validity of the notion of deponency is questionable in light of a closer look at the function and meaning of the middle voice in Greek.
  • We have already observed that during the time of Hellenistic Greek, the middle voice form was losing ground to the passive.
  • The middle voice spoke not only for but also to the Greek sense of self.
2.1Denoting a transitive or intransitive verb in English with a passive sense, e.g., cuts in this meat cuts well.
Example sentences
  • Further, with all forms except the aorist and future, we are not able to tell whether a verb is middle or passive.

noun

Back to top  
1 [usually in singular] The point or position at an equal distance from the sides, edges, or ends of something: she stood alone in the middle of the street
More example sentences
  • If the action is in the middle, both sides are cropped.
  • Well here I have a single bed, so, my favourite side is the middle.
  • In the middle of the two sides of this are large domes built on pillars of the same height as those of the outer arcade and an upper gallery runs all round it.
1.1The point at or around the center of a process or activity, period of time, etc. we were married in the middle of December
More example sentences
  • But it added that if the issues fail to be resolved through negotiations, it would launch collective activities from the middle of next month.
  • Secondly, when you do give her your gifts during the middle of the period, she will be so relieved that she won't realize that you've messed up her lecture.
  • Irma is hoping the Commission will agree to an extension of the copyright period by the middle of next year.
Synonyms
center, midpoint, halfway point, dead center, focus, hub;
eye, heart, core, kernel
1.2 informal A person’s waist or waist and stomach: he had a towel around his middle
More example sentences
  • She was shorter than I was by a good ten inches, round about the middle, but with the firm energy that my father used to possess.
  • He was tall and broad-chested, if a bit round at the middle, and dressed much better than these other two.
  • One was slightly large round the middle, the other wearing a very short skirt and denim jacket.
Synonyms
2 Grammar The form or voice of a verb expressing reflexive or reciprocal action, or a passive sense for a transitive or intransitive verb.
Example sentences
  • Other standard grammars use different lexemes but communicate the same reflexive idea for the middle.
  • The middle, or Third Voice, can help the congregation be unafraid of conflict and to welcome it as an opportunity.
3 short for middle term.

Origin

Old English middel; related to Dutch middel and German Mittel, also to mid1.

Phrases

down the middle

1
Divided or dividing something equally into two parts.
Example sentences
  • The two-ref system sees the soccer pitch divided down the middle, from goal to goal, by an imaginary line.
  • An idea is to split the trailer down the middle and divide into compartments.
  • With the nation divided down the middle, it was proof that Democrats should take nothing for granted.

in the middle of

2
Engaged in or in the process of doing something.
Example sentences
  • We are right in the middle of our annual business planning process which I have the lead for.
  • We caught up with Wiley in the middle of hectic preparations for his second video shoot.
  • A nurse would leave in the middle of a procedure, promising to return, but fail to do so.
2.1Involved in something, typically something unpleasant or dangerous: he was caught in the middle of the emotional triangle
More example sentences
  • We would still be in the middle of a terrible employment tribunal and discipline.
  • In fact, if experts are to be believed, we are in the middle of a shyness epidemic.

the middle of nowhere

3
see nowhere.
Example sentences
  • If I wasn't so slow, I might have been able to avoid a huge, sharp sword sticking out from the middle of nowhere, just conveniently pointing at my chest.
  • We weave our way in and out of mangrove islands, and past sticks protruding oddly from what seems like the middle of nowhere.
  • I mean, it really is the middle of nowhere - especially coming from London.

steer (or take) a middle course

4
Adopt a policy that avoids extremes.
Example sentences
  • But the bee takes a middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own.
  • But both sides, while unctuously claiming that of course they themselves take a middle course and believe in both genes and culture, seemingly remain convinced that no one on the other side does.
  • The result is a comprehensive and, in places, detailed account of the life of this king that generally steers a middle course through the many controversies of his reign.

Words that rhyme with middle

diddle, fiddle, griddle, kiddle, Liddell, piddle, riddle, twiddle

Definition of middle in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day reciprocity
Pronunciation: ˌresəˈpräsədē
noun
exchanging things with others for mutual benefit…