Definition of ordinary in English:



  • 1With no special or distinctive features; normal.

    ‘he sets out to depict ordinary people’
    ‘it was just an ordinary evening’
    • ‘But what makes this really interesting, is that it makes it possible to put smartphone features onto a pretty ordinary phone.’
    • ‘It was expected to be an ordinary courtesy call, but the Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese Political Consultative Forum didn't hesitate to talk shop.’
    • ‘The show's distinctive features have been imitated by ordinary people and even by foreigners.’
    • ‘During my days as a Vietnam war protester, it was always clear what distinguished ordinary liberals from leftists.’
    • ‘There was no code of practice regulating the issue in Ireland, which restricted the ability of ordinary customers to shop around, he said.’
    • ‘Yorkshire Building Society has announced that when its next board director comes up for retirement, probably next year, it would like to see an ordinary customer filling the seat.’
    • ‘Rather, it featured the works of ordinary folk making their first venture into the arts world.’
    • ‘The woman was a pretty woman of fair hair and ordinary dress with delicate features that seemed a bit pinched.’
    • ‘They are not only critical for Canada's trade relationship, but in fact have also become an ordinary feature of life for many Canadians.’
    • ‘There is no distinction between bold and ordinary text - which is a bit pesky.’
    • ‘Mr Cheetham, who is a student at Northumbria University, said he thought Mr Gormley's works would help to break down prejudices against modern art, featuring as they do ordinary people.’
    • ‘A young child who does not conceptually distinguish escalators from ordinary stairs would probably use the term stairs for both.’
    • ‘Because that overt stylization distinguishes it from ordinary speech.’
    • ‘They thought the colonial situation held considerable potential for conflict between ordinary settlers and the natives and it was their responsibility to keep it in check.’
    • ‘With this distinction comes a notoriety and privilege that normally takes the ordinary filmmaker half a lifetime to establish.’
    • ‘At this point in time, almost all of us are aware that an ordinary individual can't expect to take a flight without being stripped to the toenail clippers.’
    • ‘If this is what distinguishes me from ordinary Australians, then I'm glad I'm different.’
    • ‘New research by a York academic has shown that ordinary people simply can't distinguish the sound of a boys' choir from a girls' choir.’
    • ‘Much of the cost is not visible to ‘the elites’ but noticeable to ordinary people through daily experience.’
    • ‘An exhibition featuring the ordinary lives of Greenlanders and their arts and crafts came to Sofia for the first time on Tuesday.’
    usual, normal, standard, typical, stock, common, customary, habitual, accustomed, expected, wonted, everyday, regular, routine, day-to-day, daily, established, settled, set, fixed, traditional, quotidian, prevailing
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    1. 1.1 Not interesting or exceptional; commonplace.
      ‘she seemed very ordinary’
      • ‘Annie Allen's another one of Brooks's very ordinary, totally undistinguished characters.’
      • ‘I was a small boy of no more than five years old, and my younger brother was with me on a very ordinary evening.’
      • ‘In a warm-up game against South Africa, Smith made 57 and in the process made the World Cup attack look distinctly ordinary.’
      • ‘It is a common and ordinary experience to occasionally discover scratches and cuts with no memory of how they got there.’
      • ‘He advocated that literature should record the writer's affectionate response to ordinary phenomena and commonplace happenings.’
      • ‘‘The maestro is just an ordinary man except for the music, enjoying food and cherishing friendship,’ Zhang recalled.’
      • ‘It was bred as recently as 1852 in the Loire, probably as a table grape from Chasselas and the distinctly ordinary Muscat de Saumur, according to Galet.’
      • ‘It always amazed Diana at how many once ordinary, common things were now worth high dollars to collectors.’
      • ‘What happened to me was not ordinary and average and commonplace and I reject any word that makes it appear so.’
      • ‘It is a strangely ordinary evening in an extraordinary life.’
      • ‘Imagine on top of this that you wanted, in fact, to mount an argument as to what makes certain daguerreotypes exceptional and others merely ordinary.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, by ordinary consciousness I do not mean the ordinary consciousness of commonplace minds.’
      • ‘Simple, ordinary people don't interest Varma.’
      • ‘He was a very ordinary nondescript man with average brown hair and build.’
      • ‘For young readers, My Brother Martin is an exceptional story about an ordinary boy who became an extraordinary man.’
      • ‘But too often, Bowering chooses to write at a loping gait about prosaic, ordinary things, which can be uneventful and boring for the reader on the outside looking in.’
      • ‘This was another case of ordinary life being more interesting than it looked at first sight.’
      • ‘All are ordinary working men, except for Kenneth Pyper, an aristocratic artist turned existential nihilist who, unlike the others, seems genuinely prepared for death.’
      • ‘Neruda's faith in the power of poetry was not because he wrote thousands of verses but because his poetry held meaning for the most common and ordinary people.’
      • ‘Instead of her common, ordinary brown eyes, her eyes now were completely black, except for one small glowing gold pupil in the center.’
      average, normal, run-of-the-mill, standard, typical, middle-of-the-road, common, conventional, mainstream, unremarkable, unexceptional, unpretentious, modest, plain, simple, homely, homespun, workaday, undistinguished, nondescript, characterless, colourless, commonplace, humdrum, mundane, unmemorable, pedestrian, prosaic, quotidian, uninteresting, uneventful, dull, boring, uninspiring, bland, suburban, hackneyed, stale, mediocre, middling, indifferent
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  • 2(especially of a judge or bishop) exercising authority by virtue of office and not by deputation.

    • ‘Should this be the case, an ordinary judge is not allowed to disregard the national legislation but is bound to refer it to the Constitutional Court.’
    • ‘All the ordinary judges of the Supreme Court and the chief justice were educated in private schools.’
    • ‘He is the second most senior ordinary judge of the Supreme Court, having been appointed to the bench in 1999 when he returned from the European Court.’
    • ‘His position was more like the Pope than that of an ordinary bishop.’
    • ‘Murphy's model was to have senior judges and ordinary judges under the one umbrella.’

nounPlural Ordinaries, Plural ordinaries

  • 1the ordinaryWhat is commonplace or standard.

    ‘their clichés were vested with enough emotion to elevate them above the ordinary’
    • ‘The sentiments may be trite, but the graphics are often novel, demonstrating originality and computer skills above the ordinary.’
    • ‘The telling of this story is not intended to suggest I have in some way been chosen, or that I own powers far above the ordinary.’
    • ‘What could have been an unfocused art movie is raised above the ordinary by Bill Murray's comic brilliance.’
    • ‘The French fashion veteran infuses her clothes with feminine touches that lift them above the ordinary.’
    • ‘Luxurious style, fine craftsmanship, and authentic details elevate Aladdin Resort & Casino far above the ordinary.’
    • ‘His physical skills are above ordinary and that pays off on the defensive end.’
    • ‘And finally, the sublime constantly mixes with the ordinary.’
    • ‘This is the film that has mattered most to him since he wrote and directed The Apostle, yet there is nothing here that rises above the ordinary.’
    • ‘This being a Dreamworks disc, and a ‘Special Edition’ at that, you can bet on a collection of extra material that is a cut above the ordinary.’
    • ‘It is their own compositions which mark out Rua as something above the ordinary.’
    • ‘It aims to offer 1,200 teams from some 60 nations something way above the ordinary.’
    • ‘Akshaye, with his quiet presence and brooding eyes gets the chance to rise above the ordinary in a role, which I'm sure most actors would crave for.’
    • ‘It is Turner's lyrics that lift Arctic Monkeys above the ordinary.’
    • ‘In their place, Echenoz proposes a rhetoric of platitude, insisting upon the commonplace, the dull, the ordinary.’
    • ‘McGinley, a late developer, was especially disappointing this year and having failed to build on his 2001 breakthrough may now return forever to the ranks of the ordinary.’
    • ‘Mrs. Tuitt's prowess and achievement at the sport of netball is another huge claim to fame which elevates her above the ordinary.’
    • ‘At times yesterday they rose above the ordinary, and played with a lot of heart and defensive organisation.’
    • ‘Opulent style, fine craftsmanship, and authentic details elevate Paris Las Vegas far above the ordinary.’
    • ‘It did some exploration into Medea's psyche, but the narrative in general had a direct approach, which robbed the play of rising above the ordinary.’
    • ‘He's on a par with Hitchcock for building tension and making the ordinary seem threatening.’
  • 2British Law
    A judge who exercises authority by virtue of office and not by deputation.

  • 3A member of the clergy, such as an archbishop in a province or a bishop in a diocese, with immediate jurisdiction.

    • ‘Jeffrey Steenson is Canon to the Ordinary in the Episcopal diocese of the Rio Grande.’
  • 4Those parts of a Roman Catholic service, especially the Mass, which do not vary from day to day.

    • ‘Even so, between 1592 and 1595 Byrd published his three settings of the ordinary of the mass, the masses for three, four and five voices.’
    1. 4.1 A rule or book laying down the order of divine service.
  • 5Heraldry
    Any of the simplest principal charges used in coats of arms (especially chief, pale, bend, fess, bar, chevron, cross, saltire).

  • 6

    short for ordinary share
    • ‘The spin offensive in today's papers has done nothing for News Corp's share price as the ordinaries dipped 16 cents to $11.02.’
  • 7archaic A meal provided at a fixed time and price at an inn.

    1. 7.1 An inn providing a meal at a fixed time and price.
  • 8North American historical A penny-farthing bicycle.


  • in ordinary

    • (in titles) by permanent appointment, especially to the royal household.

      ‘painter in ordinary to Her Majesty’
      • ‘He became a favourite painter of the royal family and was appointed principal painter in ordinary to George III in 1767.’
  • in the ordinary way

    • If the circumstances are or were not exceptional; normally.

      ‘but in the ordinary way we shouldn't expect to hear from him’
      • ‘The first is that in the ordinary way costs follow the event.’
      • ‘In those circumstances the policy will, at any rate in the ordinary way, be conclusive evidence of the contract unless and until it has been rectified; the slip cannot be used to add to, explain or contradict the meaning of the policy.’
      • ‘The claimant concedes that in the ordinary way a company cannot recover by way of costs any payment for the time of its employees engaged in investigating or prosecuting its claim.’
      • ‘I wanted to say, in the ordinary way, it should be practicable.’
      • ‘Plainly individual acts of negligence will not in the ordinary way constitute a breach of this duty.’
      • ‘But in the ordinary way, a competent pleading, which alleges all the relevant facts in accordance with the claimant's instructions, either discloses a cause of action or it does not.’
      • ‘It is in the ordinary way the business of the prosecution to be ready.’
      • ‘Now, as far as time for the notice of appeal is concerned, in the ordinary way, that time will run from the date I make the order, unless time is extended.’
      • ‘The Rules state the details of immigration policy, and in doing so prescribe in effect which classes of aliens will in the ordinary way be allowed to enter the United Kingdom and which will not.’
      • ‘The costs ordered to be paid should not in the ordinary way be grossly disproportionate to the fine.’
      usually, traditionally, normally, as a rule, conventionally, generally, in the ordinary way, ordinarily, commonly
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  • out of the ordinary

    • Unusual.

      ‘nothing out of the ordinary happened’
      • ‘But this writer makes out as if angst in a political office is something out of the ordinary.’
      • ‘It is really, really strange because I haven't done anything out of the ordinary.’
      • ‘Finding something out of the ordinary for gardeners can be tricky and some themes crop up again and again this Christmas.’
      • ‘This in itself is hardly out of the ordinary; in fact it is a common occurrence.’
      • ‘Nothing seemed unusual or out of the ordinary that morning, to her eyes, at least.’
      • ‘I noticed the phone because it is the same model I have, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary.’
      • ‘It may not seem like anything out of the ordinary, but the album title alone suggests otherwise.’
      • ‘Most carers insist that what they do is nothing out of the ordinary.’
      • ‘It's an interesting one mainly because he's not really doing anything out of the ordinary with his weblog.’
      • ‘We're not going to do anything extravagant or anything that's out of the ordinary.’
      unusual, exceptional, remarkable, extraordinary, unexpected, surprising, unaccustomed, uncommon, unfamiliar, abnormal, atypical, unwonted, out of the way, anomalous, different, special, exciting, memorable, striking, noteworthy, unique, singular, unheard of, impressive, outstanding, unconventional, unorthodox, exotic, strange, peculiar, odd, queer, curious, bizarre, offbeat, weird, outlandish
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Late Middle English: the noun partly via Old French; the adjective from Latin ordinarius ‘orderly’ (reinforced by French ordinaire), from ordo, ordin- ‘order’.