see also: Ordinary
  • (British) IPA: /ˈɔːdɪnəɹi/, /ˈɔːdənɹi/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈɔɹdɪnɛɹi/
    • (America) IPA: /ˈɔɹdɪnɛ(ə)ɹi/


  1. (legal, of a judge) Having regular jurisdiction; 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.
    • ante 1719 Joseph Addison, 1741, The Works of the Late Honourable Joseph Addison, Eſq., Volume 3, page 545 ↗,
      Method is not leſs requiſite in ordinary converſation than in writing, provided a man would talk to make himſelf underſtood.
  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.
    • ante 1859 Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, "Samuel Johnson," in 1871, Lady Trevelyan (Hannah More Macaulay Trevelyan, editor), The Works of Lord Macaulay Complete, Volume 7, page 325 ↗,
      An ordinary lad would have acquired little or no useful knowledge in such a way: but much that was dull to ordinary lads was interesting to Samuel.
    • 1915, G[eorge] A. Birmingham [pseudonym; James Owen Hannay], chapter I, in Gossamer, New York, N.Y.: George H. Doran Company, OCLC 5661828 ↗:
      It is never possible to settle down to the ordinary routine of life at sea until the screw begins to revolve. There is an hour or two, after the passengers have embarked, which is disquieting and fussy.
  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, [http://books.google.com.au/books?id=66OBschGE_YC&pg=PA480&dq=%22very|pretty+ordinary%22+australia+OR+zealand+-intitle:%22%22+-inauthor:%22%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=X9jIT73oD6GtiAe0550x&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22very|pretty%20ordinary%22%20australia%20OR%20zealand%20-intitle%3A%22%22%20-inauthor%3A%22%22&f=false 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, [http://books.google.com.au/books?id=hOG48C875pIC&pg=PA80&dq=%22very|pretty+ordinary%22+australia+OR+zealand+-intitle:%22%22+-inauthor:%22%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=X9jIT73oD6GtiAe0550x&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22very|pretty%20ordinary%22%20australia%20OR%20zealand%20-intitle%3A%22%22%20-inauthor%3A%22%22&f=false 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, [http://books.google.com.au/books?id=qjTFbBnBzFEC&pg=PA28&dq=%22very|pretty+ordinary%22+australia+OR+zealand+-intitle:%22%22+-inauthor:%22%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=X9jIT73oD6GtiAe0550x&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false 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, [http://books.google.com.au/books?id=8_kHrSzdRy4C&pg=PA125&dq=%22very|pretty+ordinary%22+australia+OR+zealand+-intitle:%22%22+-inauthor:%22%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=X9jIT73oD6GtiAe0550x&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false 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.
Antonyms Translations Translations Noun

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.
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: […], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970 ↗:
      , II.2.4, 1847, [http://books.google.com.au/books?id=RXw4AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA315&dq=%22they+would+be+inquiring+of+every+carrier+and+passenger+what+they+had+heard+or+seen,+what+news+abroad%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=L5FnU72UCYeykAWI3YGYBw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22they%20would%20be%20inquiring%20of%20every%20carrier%20and%20passenger%20what%20they%20had%20heard%20or%20seen%2C%20what%20news%20abroad%22&f=false page 315],
      We are most part too inquisitive and apt to hearken after news, which Cæsar, in his Commentaries, observes of the old Gauls, 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.
    • 1712, Jonathan Swift, A Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue, The Works of Jonathan Swift, Volume 2, [http://books.google.com.au/books?id=msVEAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA288&dq=%22All+the+odd+words+they+have+picked+up+in+a+coffeehouse,+or+a+gaming%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=q6FnU7baFMbPkAXl2YDwDA&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22All%20the%20odd%20words%20they%20have%20picked%20up%20in%20a%20coffeehouse%2C%20or%20a%20gaming%22&f=false page 288],
      Thus furnished, they come up to town, reckon all their errors for accomplishments, borrow the newest set of phrases ; and if they take a pen into their hands, all the odd words they have picked up in a coffeehouse, or a gaming ordinary, are produced as flowers of style.
    • Bancroft, 1899, Richard Garnett, Léon Vallée, Alois Brandl (editors), The Universal Anthology, page 320 ↗,
      He enjoyed a perpetual port duty of fourteen pence a ton, on vessels not owned in the province, yielding not far from five thousand dollars a year; and 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.
    • 1622, William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 5, 1800, The Plays of William Shakspeare, Volume 8, page 287 ↗,
      I ſee no more in you than in the ordinary / Of nature's ſalework.
    • ante 1626 Francis Bacon, quoted in 1773, Samuel Johnson, A Dictionnary of the English Language, unnumbered page ↗,
      Spain had no other wars save those which were grown into an ordinary; now they have coupled therewith the extraordinary of the Valtoline and Palatinate.
    • Walter Scott
      water buckets, wagons, cart wheels, plough socks, and other ordinaries
  8. (historical) A penny-farthing bicycle.


  1. The part of the Roman Catholic Mass that is the same every day

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