n. — an intermediate thing; a mean
adj. — of medium or moderate size
— a mean, middle ground
— mediocre, second-rate
— in reasonable but not the best of health
— of persons in the moderate or middle class
— occupying a middle position; not the best nor worst
adv. — moderately, fairly
— fairly well, moderately successful, okay (as in “pretty middling”)
…among other meanings
fm. the countless origins of the word middle: Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, Old Saxon, Old High German, Old Icelandic, Old Swedish, among others.
first published. before written history
inspiration. a recent NPR story by Shankar Vedantam, in which researcher Chris Herbst daringly, though quite logically coins a new use of the word middling, as a verb: to pursue the middle.
CHRIS HERBST: We found pretty consistent evidence that child care center directors were middling it with regard to teacher credentials. They tended to stay away from the least-qualified resumes in our pool. They also tended to stay away from the most-qualified resumes in our pool and, instead, went for the sort of middle-of-the-road qualifications.
STEVE INSKEEP: Middling it, I’ve never heard that phrase before.