Here's a passage from a story I vaguely remember:

The ritual involves gruesome acts like self-mutilation or sacrifice, but also some __ steps like standing on a skyscraper and humming for three hours.

I'm looking for a single word that I can fill in the blank. I've been suggested phrases like "relatively normal", but I am pretty sure that this was a single word.

  • A passage like that in fiction probably wouldn't be so explicit. Compare: "The ritual involves self-mutilation, human sacrifice, and humming "Sugar, Sugar" for three hours atop a skyscraper." Show, don't tell.
    – Chel
    Dec 27, 2011 at 3:37
  • I think any of the several good suggestions below (benign, mundane, etc.) would still call for a qualifier like rather more or comparatively. If someone had me stand atop a skyscraper and hum for three hours - even if that was the worst they did to me - I'd hardly describe the experience as benign.
    – user13141
    Dec 27, 2011 at 7:38
  • The passage plainly calls for a word that lends it a mildly ironic tone; no qualifier is required with the right word.
    – Gnawme
    Dec 27, 2011 at 17:23

6 Answers 6


Less extreme could be another option.


I'd be inclined to go with something like intermediate or perhaps lesser for that passage.


By comparison, standing on a skyscraper etc is benign.


How about mundane?

  1. ...
  2. common; ordinary; banal; unimaginative.

Based on or in accordance with what is generally done or believed.

convention (norm) A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms or criteria, often taking the form of a custom.
'... it is conventional in many societies that strangers being introduced shake hands.'

alternatives: customary, the-done-thing, en vogue, the usual ...

I would suggest that you revise your interpretation of normal itself. Consider this: 'In our practice, average is normal.' If a patient is underweight by WHO standards, but close to the average for his demographic, the patient's weight is considered normal.


Compared to self-mutilation, standing on a skyscraper and humming is prosaic:

prosaic, adjective: belonging to or suitable for the everyday world [MW]

You could also say that it's humdrum (another synonym for prosaic).

  • Dear downvoter, please consult the corpus for the use of prosaic in this context.
    – Gnawme
    Dec 27, 2011 at 4:13

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