or·​di·​nary | \ ˈȯr-də-ˌner-ē How to pronounce ordinary (audio) \

Definition of ordinary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of a kind to be expected in the normal order of events : routine, usual an ordinary day
2a : of common quality, rank, or ability an ordinary teenager
b : deficient in quality : poor, inferior ordinary wine
3 : having or constituting immediate or original jurisdiction also : belonging to such jurisdiction


plural ordinaries

Definition of ordinary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the regular or customary condition or course of things usually used in the phrase out of the ordinary We haven't done anything out of the ordinary.
2a(1) : a prelate exercising original jurisdiction over a specified territory or group The ordinary of a diocese is a bishop.
(2) : a clergyman appointed formerly in England to attend condemned criminals
b : a judge of probate in some states of the U.S.
3 often capitalized : the parts of the Mass that do not vary from day to day The "Our Father" is part of the ordinary of the Mass.
4a British : a meal served to all comers at a fixed price
b chiefly British : a tavern or eating house serving regular meals
5 : a common heraldic charge (such as the bend) of simple form (see charge entry 2 sense 7a)

Other Words from ordinary


ordinariness \ ˈȯr-​də-​ˌner-​ē-​nəs How to pronounce ordinary (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for ordinary


common, ordinary, plain, familiar, popular, vulgar mean generally met with and not in any way special, strange, or unusual. common implies usual everyday quality or frequency of occurrence a common error lacked common honesty and may additionally suggest inferiority or coarseness. common manners ordinary stresses conformance in quality or kind with the regular order of things. an ordinary pleasant summer day a very ordinary sort of man plain is likely to suggest homely simplicity. plain hard-working people familiar stresses the fact of being generally known and easily recognized. a familiar melody popular applies to what is accepted by or prevalent among people in general sometimes in contrast to upper classes or special groups. a writer of popular romances vulgar, otherwise similar to popular, is likely to carry derogatory connotations (as of inferiority or coarseness). souvenirs designed to appeal to the vulgar taste

Examples of ordinary in a Sentence

Adjective They've had the ordinary problems associated with starting a new business. My wife thought our guide was strange, but he seemed perfectly ordinary to me. The meal was ordinary and uninspired.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The idea is to include ordinary people in the fight against climate change, and the company says its customers range from people who live in mansions to those who live in trailers. Elishah Luke, CNN, 5 Jan. 2022 For millennia, rulers and ordinary people alike have used the method to predict the future. Diana Rose Harper, Wired, 5 Jan. 2022 That hopeful sentiment was shared by ordinary people. Bobby Caina Calvan, USA TODAY, 1 Jan. 2022 Second, the expenses must be ordinary and necessary to carry on a business, meaning that any business owner would logically come to the same conclusion regarding a business expense. Vlad Rusz, Forbes, 27 Dec. 2021 Stamm, whose precise, dry prose builds suspense in its very insistence on the quotidian, creates narratives simultaneously ordinary and strange, even uncanny. Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine, 23 Nov. 2021 Yet the reality may be both more ordinary and more eternal: that the changes will be small but persistent. New York Times, 5 Nov. 2021 But Stewart has long confounded our notions of the ordinary and the extraordinary, and her brilliantly prismatic performance is both a natural extension of her image and a nervy departure from it. Los Angeles Times, 4 Nov. 2021 Altogether, this large-format, voluminous anthology chronicles decades of Alaska women’s achievements, thoughts, and both ordinary and extraordinary lives. Nancy Lord, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ordinary.' 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 ordinary


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a(1)

History and Etymology for ordinary


Middle English ordinarie, from Latin ordinarius, from ordin-, ordo order


Middle English ordinarie, from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin ordinarius, from Latin ordinarius, adjective

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Time Traveler for ordinary

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The first known use of ordinary was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near ordinary



ordinary's court

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Last Updated

14 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ordinary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ordinary. Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for ordinary



English Language Learners Definition of ordinary

: normal or usual : not unusual, different, or special
: neither very good nor very bad : not very impressive


or·​di·​nary | \ ˈȯr-də-ˌner-ē How to pronounce ordinary (audio) \

Kids Definition of ordinary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to be expected : normal, usual an ordinary day
2 : neither good nor bad : average I was an ordinary student. They're just ordinary people.
3 : not very good : mediocre She gave a very ordinary speech.



Kids Definition of ordinary (Entry 2 of 2)

: the conditions or events that are usual or normal It's nothing out of the ordinary.



Legal Definition of ordinary

: of a kind to be expected from the average person or in the normal course of events broadly : of a common kind or degree an ordinary proceeding — compare extraordinary

More from Merriam-Webster on ordinary

Nglish: Translation of ordinary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ordinary for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ordinary


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