[ awr-dn-er-ee ]
/ ˈɔr dnˌɛr i /
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See synonyms for: ordinary / ordinaries / ordinariness on Thesaurus.com

noun, plural or·di·nar·ies.
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Idioms about ordinary

    in ordinary, in regular service: a physician in ordinary to the king.
    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

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English ordinarie (noun and adjective), from Latin ordinārius “regular, of the usual order,” equivalent to ordin- (stem of ordō “row, regular arrangement”) + -ārius adjective suffix; see order, -ary

synonym study for ordinary

3. See common.


or·di·nar·i·ness, nounqua·si-or·di·nar·y, adjectivesu·per·or·di·nar·y, adjectiveun·or·di·nar·y, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does ordinary mean?

Ordinary means usual, normal, or of no special quality.

Sometimes, the word is used in a negative way to mean somewhat inferior, below average, or just plain—in much the same way as the word mediocre.

Describing something as ordinary usually means that it’s very basic or commonplace—there’s nothing special or unusual about it. An ordinary day is one in which nothing unexpected happens.

You could describe a person as ordinary to mean that they’re normal, as in People treat me like a celebrity, but I’m just an ordinary guy. But using ordinary to describe a person can also be an insult, as in I don’t know what you see in him—he’s so ordinary.  

Ordinary can also be used as a noun (especially in the ordinary) referring to the common or usual state or condition. This is how the word is used in the phrase out of the ordinary, which means unusual, uncommon, or exceptional.

Example: He was so ordinary it was almost suspicious—no one’s that normal!

Where does ordinary come from?

The first records of the word ordinary come from the 1200s. It comes from the Latin ordinārius, meaning “regular” or “of the usual order.”

Ordinary things are regular—they exist in the usual order of things. The adverb form ordinarily means “usually” or “in an ordinary manner.”

Describing something as extraordinary doesn’t mean it’s “extra ordinary” or “extra normal” but instead means it’s “beyond ordinary”—it’s unusual, exceptional, or out of the ordinary.

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What are some other forms of ordinary?

What are some synonyms for ordinary?

What are some words that share a root or word element with ordinary

What are some words that often get used in discussing ordinary?

How is ordinary used in real life?

Ordinary is commonly used to mean “normal” or “regular,” but it can also be used in a negative way to mean “inferior” or “not at all special.”



Try using ordinary!

Which of the following words would NOT be used to describe something that’s considered ordinary?

A. fantastic
B. unremarkable
C. dull
D. typical

How to use ordinary in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ordinary

/ (ˈɔːdənrɪ) /

noun plural -naries

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with ordinary


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.