• Ordinary



    From Anglo-Norman ordenaire, ordenarie etc., from Latin ōrdinārius ("regular, orderly"), from ōrdō ("order").

    Full definition of ordinary



    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.
      • a. 1719 Joseph Addison, 1741, The Works of the Late Honourable Joseph Addison, EÅ¿q., Volume 3, page 545,Method is not leÅ¿s requiÅ¿ite in ordinary converÅ¿ation than in writing, provided a man would talk to make himÅ¿elf underÅ¿tood.
    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.
      • a. 1859 Thomas 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, George A. Birmingham, Gossamer Chapter 1, 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.




    (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.
      • 1621, Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, II.2.4, 1847, 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, 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.
      • unknown date 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 Å¿ee no more in you than in the ordinary
        Of nature's Å¿alework.
      • a. 1626 Francis Bacon, quoted in 1773, , 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.
      • unknown date Walter Scottwater buckets, wagons, cart wheels, plough socks, and other ordinaries
    8. (historical) A penny-farthing bicycle.
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