[ awr-dn-er-ee ]
See synonyms for: ordinaryordinariesordinariness 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.

  1. somewhat inferior or below average; mediocre.

  2. customary; usual; normal: We plan to do the ordinary things this weekend.

  3. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. common, vulgar, or disreputable.

  4. (of jurisdiction) immediate, as contrasted with something that is delegated.

  5. (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.

  1. Ecclesiastical.

    • an order or form for divine service, especially that for saying Mass.

    • the service of the Mass exclusive of the canon.

  2. History/Historical. a member of the clergy appointed to prepare condemned prisoners for death.

  3. English Ecclesiastical Law. a bishop, archbishop, or other ecclesiastic or his deputy, in his capacity as an ex officio ecclesiastical authority.

  4. (in some U.S. states) a judge of a court of probate.

  5. 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.

  6. a restaurant, public house, or dining room serving all guests and customers the same standard meal or fare.

  7. Heraldry.

    • any of the simplest and commonest charges, usually having straight or broadly curved edges.

Idioms about ordinary

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

  2. out of the ordinary,

    • exceptional; unusual: Having triplets is certainly out of the ordinary.

    • 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.

Other words for ordinary

Opposites for ordinary

Other words from ordinary

  • or·di·nar·i·ness, noun
  • qua·si-or·di·nar·y, adjective
  • su·per·or·di·nar·y, adjective
  • un·or·di·nar·y, adjective

Words Nearby ordinary

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ordinary in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ordinary


/ (ˈɔːdənrɪ) /

  1. of common or established type or occurrence

  2. familiar, everyday, or unexceptional

  1. uninteresting or commonplace

  2. having regular or ex officio jurisdiction: an ordinary judge

  3. maths (of a differential equation) containing two variables only and derivatives of one of the variables with respect to the other

nounplural -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

  1. civil law a judge who exercises jurisdiction in his own right

  2. (usually capital) an ecclesiastic, esp a bishop, holding an office to which certain jurisdictional powers are attached

  3. RC Church

    • the parts of the Mass that do not vary from day to day: Compare proper (def. 13)

    • a prescribed form of divine service, esp the Mass

  4. the US name for penny-farthing

  5. heraldry any of several conventional figures, such as the bend, the fesse, and the cross, commonly charged upon shields

  6. history a clergyman who visited condemned prisoners before their death

  7. British obsolete

    • a meal provided regularly at a fixed price

    • the inn providing such meals

  8. in ordinary British (used esp in titles) in regular service or attendance: physician in ordinary to the sovereign

Origin of 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.