What Does Medieval Mean?

Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Medieval means anything relating to the Middle Ages which describes Europe between 500 to around 1500 C.E. People also sometimes use the word medieval to talk about something that is very old. In particular, the word is used to describe things that are so old that they are no longer appropriate for use in the current situation.

People started using the word “medieval” to describe the Middle Ages in the 19th century. The word was not commonly used before that time. People did have an idea of the Middle Ages for longer, however. The word comes from the Latin “medium aevum,” which means “middle age.” When the term was first coined, scholars used it to describe the time between the end of the Roman Empire up until the beginning of the Renaissance. It was called the Middle Ages because the Roman Empire era and the era of the Renaissance are generally considered to be more important. When historians first started using the term, the Dark Ages were painted as completely barbaric and ignorant. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, this idea changed to become more shaded and to recognize that there were plenty of advancements in technology and education throughout the period.