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or·​di·​nary ˈȯr-də-ˌner-ē How to pronounce ordinary (audio)
: of a kind to be expected in the normal order of events : routine, usual
an ordinary day
: of common quality, rank, or ability
an ordinary teenager
: deficient in quality : poor, inferior
ordinary wine
: having or constituting immediate or original jurisdiction
also : belonging to such jurisdiction
ordinariness noun


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plural ordinaries
: 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.
: a prelate exercising original jurisdiction over a specified territory or group
The ordinary of a diocese is a bishop.
: a clergyman appointed formerly in England to attend condemned criminals
: a judge of probate in some states of the U.S.
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.
British : a meal served to all comers at a fixed price
chiefly British : a tavern or eating house serving regular meals
: a common heraldic charge (such as the bend) of simple form (see charge entry 2 sense 7a)
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

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
This involves moving into the ordinary world, adopting its habits and perspectives and trying, as a trusted insider, to reveal the beauty and grace that dwell in its seeming banality. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 26 May 2023 The onetime wandering travel writer mastered the art of making the ordinary seem extraordinary. David Shribman, BostonGlobe.com, 25 May 2023 For comparison, an ordinary Thursday last week saw 4,000 boardings for the entire day, said Ching. David Kroman, Anchorage Daily News, 24 May 2023 But in recent months, ordinary citizens have been charged, many in connection to Ukraine. Francesca Ebel, Washington Post, 17 May 2023 This isn't anything out of the ordinary for the activist and actress. Zizi Strater, Peoplemag, 10 May 2023 This incident comes in the wake of a string of similar incidents where seemingly ordinary mistakes led to shootings. Emily Shapiro, ABC News, 9 May 2023 And once again, people on ordinary outings – a trip to the supermarket, a holiday parade, a Sweet 16 party – had their lives ripped apart by a US mass shooting. Holly Yan, CNN, 9 May 2023 In the early 2000s, when the reality TV genre was becoming a cultural phenomenon, The Osbournes followed a famous family who were anything but ordinary. Louis Staples, Rolling Stone, 7 May 2023 See More

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

Word History



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

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near ordinary

Cite this Entry

“Ordinary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ordinary. Accessed 7 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
or·​di·​nary ˈȯrd-ᵊn-ˌer-ē How to pronounce ordinary (audio)
plural ordinaries
: regular or usual condition or course of things
nothing out of the ordinary
British : a meal served to any person at a fixed price
chiefly British : a restaurant serving regular meals


2 of 2 adjective
: to be expected : normal, usual
ordinary problems
: neither good nor bad : average
an ordinary person

Legal Definition


: 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

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