The difference between normal and usual

The difference between normal and usual
Usual for an 1860 wedding.

I've been reading about a variety of things, as usual -- as I always do. But part of my reading is looking for new things to entertain myself during the cold snap, which is one for the history books.

It's normal for Chicago to be cold at the end of January, but this is taking it a bit far, even for me.

I'm following all the stories and p0sts about the cold and noticing the different uses of "normal" and "usual."

I've also been reading about left-handedness, thanks to the good folks at Anything Left-Handed (www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk), who provide a document called "6 Things You Really Should Know if You are Left-handed."

It got me thinking about who to share the document with. It's well worth sharing. But I can't tell that easily. It brings me back to the distinction between "normal" and "usual." I don't notice a person's handedness straightaway because when I see someone doing anything left-handed, it looks normal... it looks correct, the way I would do it, the way that's comfortable. But when I see someone doing something right-handed, it looks usual... there are so many right-handers that it's a common sight, something I, er, usually see.  It may look thoroughly backwards -- it probably does -- but when I see it dozens of times a day, it stops looking quite so bad.

So sometimes, normal is usual -- but we need both words for the times, like noticing handedness, when it isn't.

It's a small distinction, but a valuable one.

Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.

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Comments

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  • In weather, normal is 30 year average.

  • In reply to jack:

    Then bang go the averages around here for a while! Thanks.

  • But what about 'typical'?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Hmmm. Watch this space, and thanks.

  • Great post! Much to think about--are extremes the new normal? Have we come to accept keeping kids in cages or mass shootings as usual?

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Thank you for raising great questions. Sometimes even when something becomes usual, it isn't (or should not be) normal -- which is precisely why we need to use each word carefully.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Yes! Thanks again.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    You're welcome, always.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Like Trump tweets?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Let's use them more carefully than that, please!

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