\ ˈnȯrm \

Definition of norm 

1 : an authoritative standard : model

2 : a principle of right action binding upon the members of a group and serving to guide, control, or regulate proper and acceptable behavior No society lacks norms governing conduct. —Robert K. Merton

3 : average: such as

a : a set standard of development or achievement usually derived from the average or median achievement of a large group

b : a pattern or trait taken to be typical in the behavior of a social group studies aimed at establishing the norms of sexual behavior among the middle classes

c : a widespread or usual practice, procedure, or custom standing ovations became the norm Bilingualism is the norm in many countries.

4a : a real-valued nonnegative function defined on a vector space with value analogous to length and satisfying the conditions that the function is zero if and only if the vector (see vector entry 1 sense 1a) is zero, the function of the product of a scalar and a vector is equal to the product of the absolute value of the scalar and the function of the vector, and the function of the sum of two vectors is less than or equal to the sum of the functions of the two vectors specifically : the square root of the sum of the squares of the absolute values of the elements of a matrix (see matrix sense 5a) or of the components of a vector

b : the greatest distance between two successive points of a set of points that partition an interval (see interval sense 2a) into smaller intervals

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Synonyms for norm


average, normal, par, standard

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Choose the Right Synonym for norm

average, mean, median, norm mean something that represents a middle point. average is the quotient obtained by dividing the sum total of a set of figures by the number of figures. scored an average of 85 on tests mean may be the simple average or it may represent value midway between two extremes. a high of 70° and a low of 50° give a mean of 60° median applies to the value that represents the point at which there are as many instances above as there are below. average of a group of persons earning 3, 4, 5, 8, and 10 dollars an hour is 6 dollars, whereas the median is 5 dollars norm means the average of performance of a significantly large group, class, or grade. scores about the norm for fifth grade arithmetic

Examples of norm in a Sentence

She scored well above the norm in math. Smaller families have become the norm. Women used to stay at home to take care of the children, but that's no longer the norm.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The overall effect is a film that—flaws and all—marries acid satire and a trippy futurescape where oppression is the norm to an ethos of genuine hope. Vann R. Newkirk Ii, The Atlantic, "Sorry to Bother You Is a Dystopian Send-Up of Dystopias," 13 July 2018 Hot and humid conditions have been the norm across the Charlotte region recently, but a reprieve — albeit brief — is on the way. Lavendrick Smith, charlotteobserver, "Need a break from the heat? You'll love Charlotte's weather this weekend.," 6 July 2018 Unstable relationships are the norm, and fathers quickly end up out of the picture. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Trump’s sexual misconduct does not embody working class family values.," 2 July 2018 But the legislative filibuster isn’t a democratic norm. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Chuck Schumer Is Secretly Sabotaging the Next Democratic President," 28 June 2018 That require analysis and strategic planning, as opposed to obedience to a norm. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, "Miss America Gets to Dress Herself," 9 June 2018 He's been a durable player, with the four-DL-stint 2016 the outlier and not the norm. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "Rangers Reaction: Is Choo playing his way onto the trading block?," 8 June 2018 Lasry said gender-neutral bathrooms were the norm in public buildings in many U.S. cities and routinely found in other countries. James B. Nelson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Alex Lasry says gender-neutral bathrooms at Bucks arena will ensure everyone feels welcome," 7 June 2018 In today’s game, pitchers such as Koch are a rarity, but Koch feels no pressure to adhere to the norm. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Arizona Diamondbacks' Matt Koch pitches against the grain in a strikeout-dominated world," 17 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'norm.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of norm

1674, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for norm

borrowed from Latin norma "carpenterʼs square, pattern," probably borrowed from an Etruscan adaptation of Greek gnṓmōn "carpenterʼs square, indicator on a sundial" — more at gnomon

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Phrases Related to norm

the norm

Statistics for norm

Last Updated

16 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for norm

The first known use of norm was in 1674

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More Definitions for norm



English Language Learners Definition of norm

norms : standards of proper or acceptable behavior

the norm : an average level of development or achievement

the norm : something (such as a behavior or way of doing something) that is usual or expected


\ ˈnȯrm \

Kids Definition of norm

2 : a common practice


\ ˈnȯ(ə)rm \

Medical Definition of norm 

: an established standard or average: as

a : a set standard of development or achievement usually derived from the average or median achievement of a large group

b : a pattern or trait taken to be typical in the behavior of a social group

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Comments on norm

What made you want to look up norm? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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