Is it possible to say "strange" instead of "unusual"?

It's not unusual for people to want to travel. or It's not strange for people to want to travel.

  • 1
    Yeah, you definitely can.
    – Azami
    Jun 10, 2016 at 12:23
  • 3
    You may...but mind it, 'strange' is not always equal to 'unusual'!
    – Maulik V
    Jun 10, 2016 at 12:32
  • 1
    It's not unusual.
    – Em.
    Jun 10, 2016 at 12:37

3 Answers 3


Sure, it's possible. There is plenty of overlap between the two words that you can often substitute one for the other.

However, some caveats may apply. For example, consider your two sentences about traveling:

It's not unusual for people to want to travel.
It's not strange for people to want to travel.

How would we talk about those folks who don't like to travel?

It's unusual for people to not want to travel.
It's strange for people to not want to travel.

Both of these sentences would imply that most people enjoy traveling, and want to do so. But the second sentence might cause a homebody to be more offended. It's one thing to say that someone's interests are uncommon (which is what "unusual" might mean), but another to say their preferences are bizarre (which is how "strange" could be interpreted).

In short, I think unusual is a "softer" term, less likely to offend or cause people to bristle. That said, "strange" isn't always insulting, either. Sometimes it's regarded as quaint.


I think you can use 'unusual' to mean 'strange' or you can use 'strange' to mean 'unusual'. These two words are almost synonyms. In the case of meaning of 'unusual' is concerned, it is "not usual or expected"

For example:

It is unusual that Tom is riding a bycycle.

In this example, Tom isn't expected to ride a bycycle. May be he always drives a car. So, it's not usual.

But, the word strange is stronger than 'unusual'. For example:

Tom is dancing lonely at home without music. It's his strange behaviour.

Here, [dancing lonely at home without music] is very unusual behaviour. Tom is showing a strange behaviour. But generally you can interchange them (strange and unusual)

That's why both are correct to use.

It's not unusual for people to want to travel.
It's not strange for people to want to travel.


"Usual" or "unusual" has to do with expectation of habit or repetition.
"Strange" or "familiar" has to do with more of an absolute level of expectation, experience, or value.

Not so long ago, people usually rode horses to work, which would seem strange today.

"Usual" has more a meaning of "often" but does not usually mean "familiar".

I heard that usually happens, but I've never seen it before.

When events are unexpected, "unusual" and "strange" can often be interchanged.

It was unusual to have rain today.
It was strange that it rained today.

He has an unusual habit.
He has a strange habit.

Consider the following pairings

unusually familiar
strangely familiar
unusually strange

are idiomatic meaning something is either "familiar" or "strange" but one is not quite sure of the reason, something like deja vu.

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