media, medium

(Latin: medium is the neuter form of the adjective medius, meaning "middle"; as well as, a neuter noun meaning, "the middle")

The transformation of media and medium over the years

When medium was first borrowed into English late in the sixteenth century, it was used for "something lying in a middle or intermediate position".

Media (the plural of medium) is a transformation of the term "media of communication", referring to those organized means of dissemination of fact, opinion, entertainment, and other information; such as, newspapers, magazines, cinema films, radio, television, the World Wide Web, billboards, books, CDs, DVDs, videocassettes, computer games, and other forms of publishing.

  • Medium was determined by logicians to function as "the middle term of a syllogism" and by mathematicians for "a geometrical or arithmetical mean", but both of these meanings have become archaic.
  • By 1595, medium was used to refer to "a means of effecting or conveying something".
  • It was first applied to the air, as the medium of sight and sound.
  • By the nineteenth century, the word was being broadly applied to "a condition, atmosphere, or environment in which something may function or florish".
  • Early in the seventeenth century another sense had developed: "an intermediate or direct instrumentality or means".
  • By the mid-eighteenth century, the first use of the phrase medium of exchange for "something commonly accepted as the instrument of commercial transactions" was being used.
  • In 1919, A.J. Wolfe, in his Theory and Practice of International Commerce, was writing about the "media of communication"; such as, telegraphs, cables, telephones, and the post.
  • The term mass media for "the means of communication (as newspapers, radio, and films) designed to reach the mass of the people" dates from 1923, while news media is attested from about 1946.
  • In the middle of the nineteenth century, there was another application in an entirely different field: "an individual through whom other persons seek to communicate with the spirits of the dead".
  • Whether to pluralize medium as media or mediums has disturbed some writers.
  • The Latin plural has been used for all senses except the spiritualist sense, where mediums is firmly entrenched.
  • Since the 1920s, there has been a trend of using media as a singular count noun, a usage which seems to have originated in advertising jargon.
  • The usage has since extended to other fields, and such phrases as "a suitable media", "one media", "a new recording media", and "an optical disc media" have been seen in recent publications.
  • The Latin medius is also the source of the English words medial and median, both referring to "being in the middle".
  • The verb mediate, "to interpose between two parites in order to reconcile them", was formed from the Latin mediatus, the past participle of the verb mediare, a Late Latin derivative of medius.
  • Our words intermediate, intermediary, and immediate can also be traced back to the Latin medius.
—Excerpts from Webster's Word Histories;
Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Massachusetts; 1989; pages 301-302.

A unit of medium, media words. Here is a unit of medio-, medi- words.