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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Run-of-the-mill

Idiom: run-of-the-mill; used as an adjective

First Example:

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!
Brianna: Really?                          
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/

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