I am confused which phrase is more suitable to put in an official text that is comparing two phrases : 1) successful person 2) Ordinary or normal person.

  • Wouldn't "average person" be a better choice here?
    – JSanchez
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 18:14
  • why not just 'people'
    – Oldcat
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 22:36

3 Answers 3


I personally think you shouldn't use any of the two options as they are not the opposite of a "successful person". But if you have to choose between the two, "ordinary people" is a better option. Using "normal person" might suggest that a "successful person" is abnormal.


Man in the street TFD

  1. the typical or ordinary person, esp as a hypothetical unit in statistics
    Origin: 1825–35

Synonyms: Joe Bloggs, Joe Blow, John Doe, common man, common person, commoner - a person who holds no title,

Personally, I would go for the average man in the street, the phrase is typically used to convey a person without exceptional abilities, talents or defects. A non-offensive term for the average member of the public.

Would you have done these things if you weren't successful, if you weren't rich? What if you were the average man in the street, with a poorly paid job, a small house, little money, two children, and debts.


Ordinary is (marginally) better than normal, as a normal person may be successful or unsuccessful, while an ordinary person is average, middle of the road, which implies neither very successful nor very unsuccessful. It seems to me, however, that neither of these words fill your need. Either contrast a "highly successful person" with an "ordinary person", or use the direct opposite: "unsuccessful person".

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