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See also: Ordinary



From Anglo-Norman ordenaire, ordenarie etc., from Latin ōrdinārius (regular, orderly), from ōrdō (order).



ordinary (comparative more ordinary, superlative most ordinary)

  1. (law) Having regular jurisdiction (of a judge; now only used in certain phrases).
  2. Being part of the natural order of things; normal, customary, routine.
    On an ordinary day I wake up at nine o'clock, work for six hours, and then go to the gym.
    • Addison
      Method is not less requisite in ordinary conversation than in writing.
  3. Having no special characteristics or function; everyday, common, mundane (often deprecatory).
    I live a very ordinary life most of the time, but every year I spend a week in Antarctica.
    He looked so ordinary, I never thought he'd be capable of murder.
    • Macaulay
      An ordinary lad would have acquired little or no useful knowledge in such a way.
  4. (Australia, New Zealand, colloquial, informal) Bad or undesirable.
    • 1983 September 20, Bruce Stannard, Australia II Joins Our Greats, The Age, republished 2003, David Headon (editor), The Best Ever Australian Sports Writing: A 200 Year Collection, page 480,
      It was, in some ways a sad, almost pathetic sight to see this great American boat which had fought so hard throughout the cup summer, now looking very ordinary indeed.
    • 1961, Joanna White, quoted in 2005, A. James Hammerton, Alistair Thomson, Ten Pound Poms: Australia′s Invisible Migrants, page 80,
      For myself, I loved adventure and travelling. I′d already done quite a bit of travelling in Europe and — couldn′t get enough of it and whilst my marriage, at that stage, was very happy, he was very entrenched as a Londoner, Cockney, absolutely Cockney Londoner, and I could see that our future was pretty ordinary and so my hidden agenda I suppose was to drag him out to Australia and hope that both our lifestyles would improve and there would be new opportunities.
    • 2007, Chris Viner-Smith, Australia′s Forgotten Frontier: The Unsung Police Who Held Our PNG Front Line, page 28,
      Everyone started making suggestions as to what to do but they were all pretty ordinary ideas such as lighting a fire and hope someone would see the smoke and come to rescue us and so on.
    • 2010, Mal Bryce, Australia's First Online Community Ipswich Queensland, page 125,
      Since the general public gained access to the Internet in 1993-4, firstly by narrowband dial-up access and since 1998 by very ordinary, so-called broadband speeds (generally less than 1 Mbps), a social and cultural revolution has been underway.


Derived terms[edit]



ordinary (plural ordinaries)

  1. (obsolete) A devotional manual.
  2. (Christianity) A rule, or book of rules, prescribing the order of service, especially of Mass.
  3. A person having immediate jurisdiction in a given case of ecclesiastical law, such as the bishop within a diocese.
  4. (obsolete) A set portion of food, later as available for a fixed price at an inn or other eating establishment.
  5. (archaic or historical) A place where such meals are served; a public tavern, inn.
    • 1621, Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, II.2.4:
      they would be inquiring of every carrier and passenger what they had heard or seen, what news abroad? [] as at an ordinary with us, bakehouse, or barber's shop.
    • Jonathan Swift
      All the odd words they have picked up in a coffeehouse, or a gaming ordinary, are produced as flowers of style.
    • Bancroft
      He exacted a tribute for licenses to hawkers and peddlers and to ordinaries.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, Tom Jones, Folio Society 1973, p. 1:
      it hath been usual with the honest and well-meaning host to provide a bill of fare which all persons may peruse at their first entrance into the house; and having thence acquainted themselves with the entertainment which they may expect, may either stay and regale with what is provided for them, or may depart to some other ordinary better accommodated to their taste.
  6. (heraldry) One of the standard geometric designs placed across the center of a coat of arms, such as a pale or fess.
  7. An ordinary thing or person; the mass; the common run.
    • Shakespeare
      I see no more in you than in the ordinary / Of nature's salework.
    • Francis Bacon
      Spain had no other wars save those which were grown into an ordinary.
    • Sir Walter Scott
      water buckets, wagons, cart wheels, plough socks, and other ordinaries
  8. (historical) A penny-farthing bicycle.