Definition of MIDDLE ENGLISH


The term Middle English functions as a noun and refers to the stage of the English language spoken and written roughly between the late 11th century and the late 15th century. It follows Old English and precedes Early Modern English, marking a significant period of linguistic evolution and transition.

Historical Language Stage (Noun): Middle English is a noun that designates a historical stage of the English language, positioned between Old English and Early Modern English.

Timeline: It encompasses the period from the late 11th century, marked by the Norman Conquest of England, to the late 15th century, which includes the introduction of the printing press.

Linguistic Changes: Middle English reflects a period of linguistic transformation, influenced by factors such as the Norman Conquest, the blending of languages, and social, cultural, and technological developments.

Dialectal Variation: During this period, regional dialects became more pronounced, contributing to a diverse linguistic landscape as different regions developed their linguistic characteristics.

Literary Works: Middle English is associated with notable literary works, including Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” which provides insights into the language and culture of the time.

Transition to Early Modern English: The end of the Middle English period marks the transition to Early Modern English, characterized by further linguistic changes and the standardization of the language.

Influence of French and Latin: Middle English saw the significant influence of French and Latin, with vocabulary and expressions borrowed from these languages, especially in legal, scientific, and religious contexts.

Chaucerian English: Geoffrey Chaucer’s writings in Middle English, particularly “The Canterbury Tales,” are considered emblematic of the language’s richness and diversity during this era.

In summary, Middle English as a noun refers to a historical stage of the English language, marked by linguistic changes, regional dialects, and the influence of French and Latin, covering the late 11th to late 15th centuries.

MIDDLE ENGLISH in a sentence

  • Middle English was spoken in England from roughly 1150 to 1500.
  • Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” is written in Middle English.
  • The transition from Old English to Middle English involved significant changes in vocabulary and grammar.
  • Middle English literature reflects the social and cultural changes of the medieval period.
  • During the Middle English period, many French words entered the English language.
  • The Middle English period saw the development of a more standardized form of English.
  • Studying Middle English can be challenging due to its differences from Modern English.
  • Middle English texts often require glossaries or translations for contemporary readers.


The term Middle English refers to the stage of the English language spoken and written roughly between the 12th and 15th centuries.

  • English Formation: “Middle English” is a compound term combining “middle,” denoting the intermediate stage between Old English and Modern English, and “English,” referring to the language spoken in England and its variants.
  • Semantic Context: In linguistic terms, “Middle English” denotes the period of linguistic transition following the Norman Conquest in 1066, during which the language evolved significantly due to the influence of Norman French and other factors. Middle English exhibits characteristics distinct from both Old English and Modern English, including changes in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.

The term Middle English thus reflects its designation as the intermediate stage of the English language’s development, marking a period of transition and evolution following the Norman Conquest.


  • Medieval English
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  • Vintage English


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