- Mediterranean "the sea between southern Europe and northern Africa," c.1400, from L.L. Mediterraneum mare "Mediterranean Sea" (7c.), from L. mediterraneus "midland;" the original sense being of "sea in the middle of the earth," from medius "middle" (see MEDIAL (Cf. medial) (adj.)) + terra "land, earth" (see TERRAIN (Cf. terrain)). The Old English name was Wendel-sæ, so called for the Vandals, Germanic tribe that settled on the southwest coast of it after the fall of Rome. The noun meaning "a person of Mediterranean race" is from 1888.
Etymology dictionary. 2014.