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According to what I knew and I have found on the web, in general the word casual is the opposite of everyday. But in the special case when it refers to clothing, it has a similar meaning to "everyday clothing". And it definitely does not mean "special" or "formal".

This seems illogical to me. Could you please clarify? Is that really the case?

This is especially confusing to me, because in my native language (Hungarian), the literal translation of casual is the same word that is used to refer to formal clothing for special events. This seems to make more sense.

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closed as general reference by Kris, mplungjan, MετάEd, Bill Franke, FumbleFingers Feb 19 '13 at 18:41

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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" casual is the opposite of everyday " -- source? –  Kris Feb 19 '13 at 7:00
    
What are the definitions of casual you found in the dictionaries? –  Kris Feb 19 '13 at 7:00
    
Casual In the European tradition, casual is the dress code that emphasizes comfort and personal expression over presentation and uniformity. It includes a very wide variety of costume, so it is perhaps better defined by what it is not than what it is. The following are not considered casual wear: Ceremonial dress such as royal robes and full dress military costume Formal wear such as white tie and black tie Business professional wear such as suits and ties. Blue jeans and a T-shirt have been described as the "casual uniform". –  mplungjan Feb 19 '13 at 7:31
    
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@mplungjan: I read wikipedia too –  nlognfan Feb 19 '13 at 7:39

1 Answer 1

Casual is a word which has drifted in meaning, as shown in the entry in etymonline.com:

casual (adj.)

late 14c., "subject to or produced by chance," from Middle French casuel (15c.), from Late Latin casualis "by chance," from Latin casus "chance, occasion, opportunity; accident, event" (see case (n.1)).

Of persons, in the sense of "not to be depended on, unmethodical," it is attested from 1883; meaning "showing lack of interest" is from 1916. Of clothes, "informal," from 1939. Related: Casually.

Casual labour is work which occurs occasionally, not on a regular basis. It's work which cannot be depended on to happen.

A casual attitude indicates that a person is not to be depended on, either because they are unmethodical or uninterested or lazy. Casual dress is for when you don't want to make the effort to be formal.

It's interesting to see how the word has extended its meaning from "occasional, by chance" all the way to "everyday, informal".

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Thank you. Unfortunately there is no tick (I probably deleted cookies, since asking the question), with which I could technically accept your answer. But actually I do accept it. –  user37883 Feb 19 '13 at 9:21
    
We can only merge registered accounts, so I'm of no help, either. –  RegDwigнt Feb 19 '13 at 10:02
    
I suppose it owes much to the very existence of casual clothes themselves; from something the well-off would wear on occasions of particularly informal leisure, to being more frequent, and then extended to the clothes worn by the less well-off (partly because they were now more well-off relatively speaking, and talking of clothes other than their normal work clothes, and their Sunday best, began to make sense). –  Jon Hanna Feb 19 '13 at 11:55

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