out of the ordinary: meaning and explanation

When we say that something is ‘out of the ordinary’, we are saying that it is special, unusual, strange, surprising or different to what is normal.

When we say that something is nothing out of the ordinary, we mean that it is nothing special, normal or ordinary.

This idiom is a great way to upgrade your English. Think of all the times you might describe something as normal, ordinary or nothing special – try using nothing out of the ordinary instead.

You can also use this phrase as part of a question, e.g. How did everything go while I was on holiday? Did anything out of the ordinary happen? (= did anything strange, unusual or interesting happen?).

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: North America

The OK, but of .
The film OK, but out of the .

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • What did you do at the weekend? Anything special?
  • Tell me about something you experienced recently which was OK, but nothing special (e.g. a meal, a book, a trip). Use nothing out of the ordinary in your answer.

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