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"fair to midlin'"

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 16, 2006

In Reply to: "Fair to midlin'" posted by Victoria S Dennis on April 15, 2006

: : : What is higher than "midlin'" in "fair to midlin'" ?

: : This from a July 2000 discussion: The word "middling" meaning of average size, mediocre size or quality, etc., dates from about 1550.

: : So the next step up would be...fair to super size?

: I've always understood "fair" and "middling" to be synonyms, so "fair to middling" is analogous to "so-so", or "six of one and half a dozen of another".

Like Victoria, I've wondered whether the first users of "fair to middling" meant them to be different, or somewhat jocularly the same. Well, the OED is on the side of different. OED: "fair-to-middling a. (also adv.), slightly above average". The citations they list, beginning in 1865, support this interpretation. I don't know how they obtain the "average" slightly above which this expression applies. ░ SS ░