Word Confusion: Media versus Mediums

Posted July 18, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This word confusion between media and medium is a holdover from my active artist days when galleries and shows required statements from exhibiting artists about the media used.

Both terms were tossed about, and it drove me a bit nuts over which to use when, especially when you toss in mixed media — my own, ahem, “medium”.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Media Mediums
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: media

Cinematographer Gunnar Fischer (behind the camera) during the filming of Waiting Women, to the right of Ingmar Bergman and the bed Maj-Britt Nilsson.

Image by Louis Huch (Svensk Filmindustri) is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Filmmaking is but one media that provides us with news and entertainment.

Kathy Davie's Together We Stand

Together We Stand uses a fiber medium to acknowledge those who died in 9/11, and how we all came together to help.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Noun 1, 2
Singular: medium
Plural: mediae 2
Adjective; Noun
Plural: media (see the left column)

 mediums (fortune tellers and some plural nouns)
Pertaining to or concerned with such means

[Usually, the media; treated as singular or plural] The main means of mass communication (broadcasting, publishing, and the Internet), and are regarded collectively 1

  • [Becoming accepted is medias] Referring to different forms of media

[Anatomy] An intermediate layer, especially in the wall of a blood vessel 2

One of the main veins in the wing of an insect

[Phonetics] A voiced unaspirated stop

  • [In Greek] A voiced stop
About halfway between two extremes of size or another quality

  • Average
  • [Of cooked meat] Halfway between rare and well-done

An agency or means of doing something

  • A means by which something is communicated or expressed

The intervening substance through which impressions are conveyed to the senses or a force acts on objects at a distance

  • The substance in which an organism lives or is cultured

A particular form of storage for digitized information, such as magnetic tape or discs
A liquid, e.g., oil or water, with which pigments are mixed to make paint

  • The material or form used by an artist, composer, or writer

A person claiming to be in contact with the spirits of the dead and to communicate between the dead and the living

The middle quality or state between two extremes

  • A reasonable balance
She has a job in media research.

Their demands were publicized by the media.

The campaign won media attention.

There were great efforts made by the medias of the involved countries.

Some 600 works in all genres and medias were submitted for review.

As a safety precaution, we’re moving or copying backed-up data through a hierarchy of different media.

“The tunica media of the artery is the middle layer of cells and contains an extra layer of smooth muscle that allows for increasing or decreasing the size of the artery” (InnerBody).

The media is the “fourth longitudinal vein; one to four branches reach the wing margin” (NC State University).

John is six feet tall and of medium build.

The suspect had medium-length hair, brown and brown.

I wanted my burger to be medium.

The company is using the latest technology as a medium for job creation.

Their primitive valuables acted as a medium of exchange.

Here the Welsh language is the medium of instruction.

Radio communication needs no physical medium between the two stations.

The medium between the cylinders is a vacuum.

It is essential to grow bacteria in a nutrient-rich medium.

I prefer fiber as a medium for my art.

Oil paint is the most popular medium for glazing.

Madge has been consulting with different mediums, trying to contact her husband.

You have to strike a happy medium between looking like royalty and looking like a housewife.

These are all mediums, and I need a large.

Noun: mediumism, mediumistic, mediumship
History of the Word:
1 From the Latin plural for medium. Late 19th century shortening of the modern Latin tunica media or or membrana media meaning middle sheath or layer.

2 The Latin feminine of medius meaning middle and dates from the mid-19th century.

Late 16th century originally denoting something intermediate in nature or degree. It’s from the Latin literally meaning middle and is a neuter of medius.

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C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?