middle + brow, by analogy with highbrow and lowbrow. The term first appeared in Punch (1925) and was later used by Virginia Woolf (1930s) in an unsent letter to the New Statesman, published as a chapter in the book "The Death of a Moth and Other Essays" (1942).
middlebrow (not comparable)
Generally pejorative, implying pretension and vulgarity – aspiring and appropriating high culture, but not appreciating it. On occasion instead used positively.
middlebrow (plural middlebrows)
- A person or thing that is neither highbrow nor lowbrow, but in between.
- ESC, 2003. Re:highbrow, middlebrow, lowbrow, The Phrase finder.
- Robert Hendrickson, 1997. Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins (New York: Facts on File)