out of the ordinary

out of the ordinary


  1. of no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional: One novel is brilliant, the other is decidedly ordinary; an ordinary person.
  2. plain or undistinguished: ordinary clothes.
  3. somewhat inferior or below average; mediocre.
  4. customary; usual; normal: We plan to do the ordinary things this weekend.
  5. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. common, vulgar, or disreputable.
  6. (of jurisdiction) immediate, as contrasted with something that is delegated.
  7. (of officials) belonging to the regular staff or the fully recognized class.

noun, plural or·di·nar·ies.

  1. the commonplace or average condition, degree, etc.: ability far above the ordinary.
  2. something regular, customary, or usual.
  3. Ecclesiastical.
    1. an order or form for divine service, especially that for saying Mass.
    2. the service of the Mass exclusive of the canon.
  4. History/Historical. a member of the clergy appointed to prepare condemned prisoners for death.
  5. English Ecclesiastical Law. a bishop, archbishop, or other ecclesiastic or his deputy, in his capacity as an ex officio ecclesiastical authority.
  6. (in some U.S. states) a judge of a court of probate.
  7. British. (in a restaurant or inn) a complete meal in which all courses are included at one fixed price, as opposed to à la carte service.
  8. a restaurant, public house, or dining room serving all guests and customers the same standard meal or fare.
  9. penny-farthing.
  10. Heraldry.
    1. any of the simplest and commonest charges, usually having straight or broadly curved edges.
    2. honorable ordinary.


  1. in ordinary, in regular service: a physician in ordinary to the king.
  2. out of the ordinary,
    1. exceptional; unusual: Having triplets is certainly out of the ordinary.
    2. exceptionally good; unusually good: The food at this restaurant is truly out of the ordinary.


  1. of common or established type or occurrence
  2. familiar, everyday, or unexceptional
  3. uninteresting or commonplace
  4. having regular or ex officio jurisdictionan ordinary judge
  5. maths (of a differential equation) containing two variables only and derivatives of one of the variables with respect to the other

noun plural -naries

  1. a common or average situation, amount, or degree (esp in the phrase out of the ordinary)
  2. a normal or commonplace person or thing
  3. civil law a judge who exercises jurisdiction in his own right
  4. (usually capital) an ecclesiastic, esp a bishop, holding an office to which certain jurisdictional powers are attached
  5. RC Church
    1. the parts of the Mass that do not vary from day to dayCompare proper (def. 13)
    2. a prescribed form of divine service, esp the Mass
  6. the US name for penny-farthing
  7. heraldry any of several conventional figures, such as the bend, the fesse, and the cross, commonly charged upon shields
  8. history a clergyman who visited condemned prisoners before their death
  9. British obsolete
    1. a meal provided regularly at a fixed price
    2. the inn providing such meals
  10. in ordinary British (used esp in titles) in regular service or attendancephysician in ordinary to the sovereign

adj.early 15c., “belonging to the usual order or course,” from Old French ordinarie “ordinary, usual” and directly from Latin ordinarius “customary, regular, usual, orderly,” from ordo (genitive ordinis) “order” (see order (n.)). Its various noun usages, dating to late 14c. and common until 19c., now largely extinct except in out of the ordinary (1893). In British education, Ordinary level (abbrev. O level), “lowest of the three levels of General Certificate of Education,” is attested from 1947. Related: Ordinarily. Unusual, uncommon, exceptional, as in The venison they served was certainly out of the ordinary. This expression sometimes, but not always, indicates that something is better than the usual. However, the negative version, nothing out of the ordinary, usually indicates that something is not special or outstanding, as in It was an interesting lecture, but nothing out of the ordinary. see out of the ordinary.

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