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I have heard this expression so many times 'steaming pile of mediocrity'

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    That's not a particularly common phrase. I wouldn't call it an idiom. But the meaning is obvious to me; it refers to something which is sub-par, disappointing, or otherwise "average". – Parthian Shot Oct 22 '15 at 0:06
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    It is an all too common phrase, so common, in fact, that it is itself a steaming pile of mediocrity. :) A "steaming pile" refers to feces. The original phrase is "steaming pile of shit". So "mediocrity" is used euphemistically. google.com/… – TRomano Oct 22 '15 at 0:15
  • I agree with @TimRomano, the expression is astoundingly trite, in the same category as "thinking out of the box," "ASAP," "24/7," and all the rest of the current crop of vulgar platitudes. Please avoid it. – Ricky Oct 22 '15 at 0:32
  • Think of some other material that appears in steaming piles. Especially, eg, on a street that a horse has just trod. – Hot Licks Oct 22 '15 at 2:34
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In short: poop/feces/defecation/garbage/sh**. It's an insult (idiom) used to describe someone or something with comparison to the above. I hope when you heard it it wasn't directed towards you, as the phrase is not commonly used in play.

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It's a play on the very insulting and rude "steaming pile of feces", which obviously means something very undesirable or unusably bad.

When something is mediocre it is not great, it is not good; but neither is it terribly bad or unsuitable - it's just an ordinary or typical thing you'd find in the middle of a collection of other ordinary and typical things.

By calling something a "steaming pile of mediocrity", they are specifically calling the thing mediocre (so they can't be quoted as saying it's terrible), but the phrase calls to mind the fecal matter end of the spectrum of quality, implying the thing is actually worse than mediocre.

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