See more synonyms for ordinary on Thesaurus.com
  1. of no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional: One novel is brilliant, the other is decidedly ordinary; an ordinary person.
  2. plain or undistinguished: ordinary clothes.
  3. somewhat inferior or below average; mediocre.
  4. customary; usual; normal: We plan to do the ordinary things this weekend.
  5. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. common, vulgar, or disreputable.
  6. (of jurisdiction) immediate, as contrasted with something that is delegated.
  7. (of officials) belonging to the regular staff or the fully recognized class.
noun, plural or·di·nar·ies.
  1. the commonplace or average condition, degree, etc.: ability far above the ordinary.
  2. something regular, customary, or usual.
  3. Ecclesiastical.
    1. an order or form for divine service, especially that for saying Mass.
    2. the service of the Mass exclusive of the canon.
  4. History/Historical. a member of the clergy appointed to prepare condemned prisoners for death.
  5. English Ecclesiastical Law. a bishop, archbishop, or other ecclesiastic or his deputy, in his capacity as an ex officio ecclesiastical authority.
  6. (in some U.S. states) a judge of a court of probate.
  7. British. (in a restaurant or inn) a complete meal in which all courses are included at one fixed price, as opposed to à la carte service.
  8. a restaurant, public house, or dining room serving all guests and customers the same standard meal or fare.
  9. penny-farthing.
  10. Heraldry.
    1. any of the simplest and commonest charges, usually having straight or broadly curved edges.
    2. honorable ordinary.
  1. in ordinary, in regular service: a physician in ordinary to the king.
  2. out of the ordinary,
    1. exceptional; unusual: Having triplets is certainly out of the ordinary.
    2. exceptionally good; unusually good: The food at this restaurant is truly out of the ordinary.

Origin of ordinary

1250–1300; Middle English ordinarie (noun and adj.) < Latin ordinārius regular, of the usual order, equivalent to ordin- (see order) + -ārius -ary
Related formsor·di·nar·i·ness, nounqua·si-or·di·nar·y, adjectivesu·per·or·di·nar·y, adjectiveun·or·di·nar·y, adjective

Synonyms for ordinary

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com

Synonym study

3. See common.

Antonyms for ordinary

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ordinariness

Historical Examples of ordinariness

  • Mr. Hazlewood had carried with him a wonderful assurance of ordinariness.

    Guy and Pauline

    Compton Mackenzie

  • And withal, the ordinariness and the midland gumption of the scene were shot through with the bright exotic rays of romance!

    Hilda Lessways

    Arnold Bennett

  • There is an ordinariness, an indistinctness, a generalization, not even to be found in a flock of sheep.

  • He tried to take Tump's appearance casually; he tried to maintain an air of ordinariness.


    T.S. Stribling

British Dictionary definitions for ordinariness


  1. of common or established type or occurrence
  2. familiar, everyday, or unexceptional
  3. uninteresting or commonplace
  4. having regular or ex officio jurisdictionan ordinary judge
  5. maths (of a differential equation) containing two variables only and derivatives of one of the variables with respect to the other
noun plural -naries
  1. a common or average situation, amount, or degree (esp in the phrase out of the ordinary)
  2. a normal or commonplace person or thing
  3. civil law a judge who exercises jurisdiction in his own right
  4. (usually capital) an ecclesiastic, esp a bishop, holding an office to which certain jurisdictional powers are attached
  5. RC Church
    1. the parts of the Mass that do not vary from day to dayCompare proper (def. 13)
    2. a prescribed form of divine service, esp the Mass
  6. the US name for penny-farthing
  7. heraldry any of several conventional figures, such as the bend, the fesse, and the cross, commonly charged upon shields
  8. history a clergyman who visited condemned prisoners before their death
  9. British obsolete
    1. a meal provided regularly at a fixed price
    2. the inn providing such meals
  10. in ordinary British (used esp in titles) in regular service or attendancephysician in ordinary to the sovereign

Word Origin for ordinary

C16: (adj) and C13: (some n senses): ultimately from Latin ordinārius orderly, from ordō order
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 ordinariness



early 15c., "belonging to the usual order or course," from Old French ordinarie "ordinary, usual" and directly from Latin ordinarius "customary, regular, usual, orderly," from ordo (genitive ordinis) "order" (see order (n.)). Its various noun usages, dating to late 14c. and common until 19c., now largely extinct except in out of the ordinary (1893). In British education, Ordinary level (abbrev. O level), "lowest of the three levels of General Certificate of Education," is attested from 1947. Related: Ordinarily.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with ordinariness


see out of the ordinary.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.