Person 1: Flipkart.com sends the ordered materials to your home via post within 2-3 business days.

Person 2: Meh, I have seen them being late; one of my friends got his ordered material after 10 days!!

Person 1: I would say that is a out of pattern case!

So what is the best way to say "out of pattern" here? I want to mean a "discreet" occurence i.e. which does not usually occur. "Discreet" is the word I use in my mother tongue in this case. Can it mean the same in English too?


7 Answers 7


Given your context, I would say:

That's not the norm.

NOAD defines norm as "something that is usual, typical, or standard".

You might also word it as:

Well, that's an exception.

Other words you could consider are aberration or atypical, as in "That sounds like an aberration," or "That seems like an atypical case to me."

  • 1
    When I read the question, one of my first thoughts (before I saw your answer) was “that’s an [or the] exception rather than the rule.” Another option: “that’s an outlier;” but I am a mathematician, and that’s somewhat of a mathematical term. I don’t know how commonly used (or even well known) it is among non-mathematicians. Dec 17, 2013 at 16:08
  • @Scott - I like outlier quite a bit, but I'd probably avoid using that unless I knew that my audience had a fairly strong background in mathematics and/or statistics. In the right place, at the right time, though, it's a very apt word.
    – J.R.
    Dec 17, 2013 at 16:38

A phrase with a structure similar to "out of the pattern":

That's out of the ordinary.


Person 2: Meh, I have seen them being late; one of my friends got his ordered material after 10 days!!

Person 1: I would say that was the exception rather than the rule.

Merriam-Webster defines the idiom as: “not common or usual : not often done, seen, or happening : rare

For something a little more colloquial, you can say


You can say unusual, e.g., "That's an unusual case". But it might be enough just to say "That's unusual". Another word is atypical, but it might be more suitable in writing.

By the way, I take it that you meant discrete, not discreet.

  • I don't think ridiculous and absurd are good words to use in this case, not unless the speaker is not only expressing surprise, but also challenging the claim that the package arrived that late. The word unbelievable also expresses some disbelief – unsual and atypical are commenting on an observed exception rather than expressing incredulity at the claim.
    – J.R.
    Dec 16, 2013 at 10:27
  • Agreed. Edited. Dec 16, 2013 at 10:38

I'd not use out of pattern because it doesn't really sound idiomatic to me. In the context provided, I'd say,

That's a bit unusual.

That's a bit odd.

Or something along these lines.


If it's merely a small deviation from the pattern,

That's irregular.

That's an irregular behavior.

is a semi-formal (in formal contexts - just standard, in informal contexts - humorous) way of phrasing it.


You could say:

  1. This is not the usual case.
  2. This is out of the ordinary.
  3. This is an atypical case.
  4. This is a nonstandard case.

However, I would stick to "abnormal" as in "This is an abnormal case.".

Something that is abnormal is out of the ordinary, or not typical. Abnormal is a combination of the Latin prefix ab which means “away from,” and the English word normal. It essentially means “not normal,” or "unusual.” Abnormal implies that whatever is “not normal” is also undesirable.

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