We love the outlier.  We have pondered standard deviations and exceptions.  We know the difference between average and normal.  Today we wonder if being “above average” has the negative taint of being “abnormal?”

If we accept the Oxford definition of “abnormal:”

… deviating from what is normal or usual, typically in a way that is undesirable or worrying …

Does that definition describe the state of being “above average?”

If you are not average — either better or worse — does that make you “abnormal” by definition?

Is the creation of the word “abnormal” a way to control and manipulate those who rise above the average range of “normal” — and if we want to be prescient and correct, do we need to replace “abnormal” with “abaverage?”


  1. It seems the latter half of the definition of abnormal excludes above average for most of what we consider above average – the part that mentions that it is typically a negative thing. For example, although Michael Jordan may have scored more baskets than the typical player, we would not call him abnormal. 🙂

  2. I agree “abnormal” is a negative label, Gordon, but should it be? If you’re off the norm on either side, then aren’t you a threat to the ordinary average?

  3. It strange. Like the two ideas are opposites but describing the same thing.

  4. Hi David,
    Above average is unnerving to the mass, that’s why they label it as abnormal.
    Below average is different, which is again disturbing and disrupting…

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