News & Events

“Run-of-the-mill” (adjective)

“We are all different. There is no such thing as a run-of-the-mill human being, but we share the same human spirit,” declared the famous theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking.

“I never intended to become a run-of-the-mill person,” announced Afro-American civil rights activist Barbara Jordan.

These are beautiful words – but what does run of the mill actually mean? Let’s start by looking at the word mill (“mulino”).

Originally mill was the word for a building which housed machines to grind grain into flour (“un edificio con delle macchine per macinare il grano e fare farina”) which were powered by water or wind. Later a mill became a sort of factory (“fabbrica”) that produced other materials. A textile mill made fabric or “tessuto” and a sawmill made timber or “legname.” Now we also use a pepper mill to grind pepper and a coffee mill to grind coffee.

Basic, ordinary materials were made in the mill so anything run-of-the-mill is ordinary, commonplace, nothing special, (“niente di speciale”).

  • “How was your weekend?”

“Oh, pretty (“piuttosto”) run-of-the-mill. We didn’t do anything special – just relaxed at home.”

  • We went to an expensive restaurant in Trastevere last week but the food was only run-of-the-mill.
  • Late-night movies are usually pretty run-of-the-mill.

We hope your week is not run-of-the-mill!!

The English Tree Team