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Normalcy vs. normality

Normality and normalcy are different forms of the same word. Normality is centuries older, though, and many English authorities consider it the superior form, for what that’s worth. Nouns ending in -cy usually come from adjectives ending in -t—for example, pregnancy from pregnant, complacency from complacent, hesitancy from hesitantwhile adjectives ending in -l usually take the -ity suffix. Normalcy is unique in flouting this convention.

Normalcy was popularized in the early 20th century thanks to President Warren G. Harding’s “return to normalcy” campaign slogan (though the word did exist before then), and language authorities have been unable to stamp it out.


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This ngram graphs the use of normalcy and normality in English-language books published from 1800 to 2000.

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Comments

  1. Americans Are DUMB says:

    Americans just don’t know the proper English.

  2. “Different spellings of the same word”? I would contest that for the simple reason that they’re pronounced differently as well. There is a fair amount of the kind of backward thinking that gives the written word primacy over the spoken, but I wish there weren’t.

    • Grammarist says:

      Thanks. We changed “spellings” to “forms.”

    • Philip Finn says:

      Don’t you mean, “primalcy”?
      Actually, you do, but primalcy would be the “archaic” form. It is bowing to the greater linguistic rule (speaking of pronunciation) that specifies the loss of letters in a word gradually over the life of the word as it devolves into a bound morpheme…
      Eventually, a language gets smaller units of meaning as it gets older and either joins with a younger language or becomes another language’s suffixes and prefixes.

      • Joshua Smith says:

        “Don’t you mean, “primalcy”?”
        Nope.

        “Actually, you do, but primalcy would be the “archaic” form.”
        Actually, no, I don’t, and I will go so far as to voice my suspicion that “primalcy” is something you made up just now. Furthermore, “primacy” goes back to Middle English, while “primal” is strictly Modern English.

        “It is bowing to the greater linguistic rule (speaking of pronunciation) that specifies the loss of letters in a word gradually over the life of the word as it devolves into a bound morpheme…”
        You may be talking about Zipf’s Law, but no, it is not generally the case that words “devolve into bound morphemes”. It’s possible for that to happen, but rare at best (and the word “devolve” is loaded anyway, in that it assumes that earlier forms are superior).

        “Eventually, a language gets smaller units of meaning as it gets older and either joins with a younger language or becomes another language’s suffixes and prefixes.”
        Horseshit. To even pretend there is such a thing as “younger languages” (excluding constructed languages like Esperanto) is to completely fail to grasp historical linguistics. Languages, like biological organisms, are related to each other in nested hierarchies.

        • omg, best response ever, go you! score 1-0, and down goes the pseudo-intellectual speaking troll outside of his/her area of expertise, which is what I hope is at least possible to blame to an education on some very poorly verified Wikipedia entries you helped correct him on. I initially thought it he had some sardonic and witty effort to cleverly craft malapropisms.

          and I was like, “oh, no, you didn’t… get all Shakespeare’s Dogberry in this place! slickly slam, can I get some 5’s slapping up in here with my grammarian bros, ya’ll? say what? we gonna bring the house down tonight, and make Shakespeare’s clown characters sound too desperate for laughs, sucka sucka!”

          but, no, no, I kept reading the original post, and that didn’t wind up happening, not at all, and I turned off the party music in my head, as any bro like myself would conjure up, dawg. Shit, Internet people are just mean to content writers, this is sad, ya’ll, I’m breaking this joint and leaving, and finding me a cheap peasant to cook down by the store, ‘cos I’m hungry. peace out! =X

  3. Josh Norton says:

    The OED’s first recorded usages of each word are only 7 years apart, not “centuries” (nor, for that matter, does this ngram show them that far apart). I’d be interested to see where you got the data.

  4. Normalcy shouldn’t exist. Normality is proper. There.

  5. no bro no its like normalcy g
    is the act of being in normality like normalcy the normalcy spread like a plague while complete normality of everyday life was one of the illuminati main goals before achieving world domination

  6. acting out the normality through normalcy

  7. the ideal of normalcy kept a father from encouraging his son

  8. if everything is not in complete normalcy im going black mail you into behaving the way I want you to

  9. things better be going along in normalcy

  10. the normalcy bra the normalcy
    the guy said as long as the is the idea of normalcy there will always be the idea of weird

  11. is the act of being in normality like normalcy the normality spread like a plague while complete normalcy of everyday life was one of the illuminati main goals before achieving world domination wait I think that’s how its suppose to go

  12. Daniel Branch says:

    I hear Normalcy used way more and I started second guessing whether I was using a correct word in Normality.

  13. Well-Manicured Man says:

    Please don’t allow center-of-page animated pop-up ads that block the content and force you to watch with no “x.” I almost left the page within seconds as a result.

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