Lance: Did you do anything special this weekend
Nancy: Not really. Just relaxed at home. Oh, I went and saw that big blockbuster this weekend.
Lance: How was it?
Nancy: Not great. It's your typical, run-of-the-mill action movie.
Lance: Oh that's too bad. I really like the lead actor.
Nancy: He was OK, but the movie itself is nothing special. I'd say wait for the DVD to watch it; it's not worth a trip to the movie theater.
Meaning: The expression “run-of-the-mill” means that something is ordinary, with no special features or characteristics. It has a similar meaning to the word "mediocre," which means that something is not special (this usually has a negative connotation, as it is usually used to describe things that are supposed to be special). In the example, Nancy describes the new blockbuster as being "run-of-the-mill,” suggesting that Lance wait for the movie to come out on DVD to watch it. Also, notice that “run-of-the-mill” uses hyphens; they should always be used with this expression. Look at another example:
Mark: Did you see Tania's engagement ring?
Brianna: No. Did you.
Mark: It's huge!
Mark: We're not talking about some run-of-the-mill 1 carat diamond engagement ring. The center diamond is over 2 carats, and there are smaller diamonds along the band. I asked Jim how much he spent on it, and he said it cost almost $10,000!
Brianna: Wow! His business must be doing well!
In this case, Mark uses the expression "run-of-the-mill" with a negative to emphasize that Tania's engagement ring is not ordinary; due to the size of the diamond and cost of the ring, it an extraordinary ring that is not “run-of-the-mill." Using the expression in this way (with a negative to emphasize that something isn't ordinary) is fairly common.
This idiom is from LSI's new edition of "Reading Horizons," which will be used in the Level 6 Reading classes. For more information, please visit http://www.languagesystems.com/