on the/an average, usually; typically: She can read 50 pages an hour, on the average.

Origin of average

1485–95; earlier averay charge on goods shipped, orig. duty (< Middle French avarie < Old Italian avaria < Arabic ʿawārīyah damaged merchandise), with -age replacing -ay
Related formsav·er·age·a·ble, adjectiveav·er·age·ly, adverbav·er·age·ness, nounsub·av·er·age, adjectivesub·av·er·age·ly, adverbsu·per·av·er·age, adjectivesu·per·av·er·age·ness, nounun·av·er·aged, adjectiveun·der·av·er·age, adjectivewell-av·er·aged, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for average

Contemporary Examples of average

Historical Examples of average

  • The men are taller than the average, and the women, relatively, taller than the men.

  • I guess I could do it and get away with it as well as the average.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • They average about the same as they do in anything else, mostly good, I think.


    W. A. Fraser

  • He's too blamed comprehensive for the average boy of my age.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • If he truly was the average age of the rest of the class there was nothing for him to be angry about.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

British Dictionary definitions for average



the typical or normal amount, quality, degree, etcabove average in intelligence
Also called: arithmetic mean the result obtained by adding the numbers or quantities in a set and dividing the total by the number of members in the setthe average of 3, 4, and 8 is 5
(of a continuously variable ratio, such as speed) the quotient of the differences between the initial and final values of the two quantities that make up the ratiohis average over the journey was 30 miles per hour
maritime law
  1. a loss incurred or damage suffered by a ship or its cargo at sea
  2. the equitable apportionment of such loss among the interested parties
(often plural) stock exchange a simple or weighted average of the prices of a selected group of securities computed in order to facilitate market comparisons
on average, on the average or on an average usually; typicallyon average, he goes twice a week


usual or typical
mediocre or inferiorhis performance was only average
constituting a numerical averagethe average age; an average speed
approximately typical of a range of valuesthe average contents of a matchbox


(tr) to obtain or estimate a numerical average of
(tr) to assess the general quality of
(tr) to perform or receive a typical number ofto average eight hours' work a day
(tr) to divide up proportionatelythey averaged the profits among the staff
(tr) to amount to or be on averagethe children averaged 15 years of age
(intr) stock exchange to purchase additional securities in a holding whose price has fallen (average down) or risen (average up) in anticipation of a speculative profit after further increases in price
Derived Formsaveragely, adverbaverageness, noun

Word Origin for average

C15 averay loss arising from damage to ships or cargoes (shared equitably among all concerned, hence the modern sense), from Old Italian avaria, ultimately from Arabic awār damage, blemish
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for average

late 15c., "financial loss incurred through damage to goods in transit," from French avarie "damage to ship," and Italian avaria; a word from 12c. Mediterranean maritime trade (cf. Spanish averia; other Germanic forms, Dutch avarij, German haferei, etc., also are from Romanic languages), of uncertain origin. Sometimes traced to Arabic 'arwariya "damaged merchandise," but this might as easily be a borrowing of the word from the Franks. Meaning shifted to "equal sharing of such loss by the interested parties." Transferred sense of "statement of a medial estimate" is first recorded 1735. The mathematical extension is from 1755.


1770; see average (n.).


1769, from average (n.). Related: Averaged; averaging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

average in Medicine


[ăvər-ĭj, ăvrĭj]


A number that typifies a set of numbers of which it is a function.
arithmetic mean
An intermediate level or degree.


Of, relating to, or constituting an average.
Being intermediate between extremes, as on a scale.


To calculate the average of.
To do or have an average of.
To distribute proportionately, as over a period of time.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

average in Science



A number, especially the arithmetic mean, that is derived from and considered typical or representative of a set of numbers. Compare arithmetic mean median mode.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

average in Culture


A single number that represents a set of numbers. Means, medians, and modes are kinds of averages; usually, however, the term average refers to a mean.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.