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Typical actually means "of a particular type" but that particular type may not be difficult. What do you people think?

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Could you please provide more context, or an example? – Jon Purdy Feb 11 '11 at 4:12
@JonPurdy, I'm guessing that it's something like "Oh, that's just typical!", which as @Tom suggests is an expression of dissatisfaction rather than difficulty. – Benjol Feb 11 '11 at 7:09
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Typical does not mean difficult. If something — at task, say, like icing a cake — is usually easy, it would be typical for it to be easy. Difficult, however, would never mean easy.

Typical means  

having the distinctive qualities of a particular type of person or thing

Those qualities might be difficulty, easiness, awkwardness, oddness, friendliness, whatever: the point is, they would be representative of a type.

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No, they don't mean the same thing.

People may however use "typical" to express dissatisfaction with something. For example:

"Typical Jim, he's always late"


"Typical, I knew I was going to fall into that cake, my day is ruined".

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Note that this is still related to typical, in that it generally means "That person (even myself) has once again done something annoying/bad, something that is typical of them". (It is especially annoying when someone does something and you 'know' in advance they're going to do it, and they do it anyway!) – Benjol Feb 11 '11 at 7:11

As others have mentioned, "typical" does not mean "difficult". There are no common English idioms where this is the case, either.

But I wonder if the people who "usually" use this word are not actually just mispronouncing "difficult". Or possibly you are mis-hearing "difficult" as "typical". There are some common consonant mutations involved d --> t, f --> p, possibly elision of the final "t". I once had Tibetan Buddhist monk as a teacher, and I can imagine him pronouncing "difficult" this way.

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I remember the newsstand vendor who used to say "eighty pie" when I bought something that cost $0.85. – phoog Dec 16 '15 at 18:07

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