: an authoritative standard : model
: 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
: average: such as
: a set standard of development or achievement usually derived from the average or median achievement of a large group
: 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
: a widespread or usual practice, procedure, or custom
standing ovations became the norm
Bilingualism is the norm in many countries.
: 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
: the greatest distance between two successive points of a set of points that partition an interval (see interval sense 3) into smaller intervals
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.
Recent Examples on the Web Flexibility emerges as a strategic investment for businesses and professionals alike, aligning seamlessly with our collective adaptation to new norms. Leeza Hoyt, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 To overcome Israeli intransigence, the United States must stop shielding Israel from the consequences of severe violations of international law and norms at the United Nations and other international organizations. Marc Lynch, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 The demonstration in Fort Lauderdale was emblematic of the kind of congressman Gaetz would be: showy, glib, and relentlessly antagonistic to institutional norms. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, 19 Feb. 2024 Young people tend to lean more liberal on a range of issues pertaining to relationship norms. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, 16 Feb. 2024 Our support unquestionably communicates and reinforces our commitment to important and humane global norms. Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 These observations indicate that a norm of joking between humans is reflected among apes: For a successful teasing interaction—an instigation and response—both parties have to be at least somewhat willing participants. Christian Thorsberg, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 Feb. 2024 For those who eschew old-fashioned dating norms, there are other ways to determine who pays on the first date, according to personal finance pros and etiquette experts. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, 14 Feb. 2024 Because no measurable snow fell at Reagan National Airport, Washington’s official observing location, the season’s snow total stands at 7.9 inches, whereas the Feb. 13 seasonal norm is 9.3 inches. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, 13 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'norm.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1674, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of norm was in 1674

Dictionary Entries Near norm

Cite this Entry

“Norm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/norm. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: average entry 1 sense 2
especially : a set standard of development or achievement usually derived from the average or median achievement of a large group
: a common or typical practice or custom

Medical Definition


: an established standard or average: as
: a set standard of development or achievement usually derived from the average or median achievement of a large group
: a pattern or trait taken to be typical in the behavior of a social group

More from Merriam-Webster on norm

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