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“New Normal” Quotations

All of us are walking around with a little thing inside our stomachs that says, "I don't feel very good in all of this." That's more or less the new normal. ~Jim Collins, interview with Fortune writer Jennifer Reingold,, January 2009

People keep going on about this "new normal." But if something is new, can it be normal yet? Can something that has become normal still be new? What exactly is  normal?... ~Jef Mallett, Frazz, 2022 February 8th,  [Caulfield —tg]

I believe this will go down as a banner year in history, if we consider it upon the new prevailing conditions. Comparisons are not only sometimes odious, but at times unreasonable. Comparisons with twelve or six years ago are of no real value, because they maintain a mental picture which should be eliminated. Conditions during those years will not return — then why use them for comparison? Why don't we establish a new normal? Today we have fears of reverting to 'that' or hopes of a recurrence of 'this' — but if we continue to remind ourselves of the past and hopes and fears through comparisons, we shall arrive at the viewpoint of the pessimist. I believe we should all be optimists. ~Sidney L. Willson, president of the American Writing Paper Company, 1927  [modified —tg]

The task is to make a new normal and a new commonplace such as will fit the conditions of a new age. We do not want to know how they planted cabbages before. We may use past knowledge for a guide, but to accept it as a decree is to court certain disaster. We must plant our cabbages, and space our cabbages in the soil of to-day and with our eyes upon the future which to-day will legitimately produce. ~The Very Rev. J. G. M'Cormick, D.D., Dean of Manchester, "Cabbage Planting," July 1922  [a little altered —tg]

      Through the country people are waiting for things to return to normal anent the high prices of lumber and other commodities. Society is in a constant state of flux. The normal of yesterday is no longer the normal of today. To return to the normal of yesterday would be to discard the electric light for the coal oil lamp. Prices will never return to normal. What we think of as normal has ceased to be and will never be again. We are on a new level.
      For years a dollar a bushel was the normal price of wheat, but it will never be again. You may not know it, but the invention of the automobile added fifty cents to the cost of production of every bushel, and it is a permanent addition. It opened a new vista to the farmer's eyes, and also set a new standard wage for labor. The assassin's bullet at Sarajevo, which set the world ablaze with war, added another fifty cents to the cost of wheat which will never come off. A dollar a bushel added to the price of wheat has increased the normal value of land, and so there will never again be a pre-war normal price of lumber.
      No lumber dealer need apologize for the market price of his product today. He can look his farmer customer straight in the eye and tell him that low-priced lumber will come again with low-priced land — with low-priced wheat — with dollar-a-day labor, which will be when the world returns to the ways of its forefathers. It will be when the farmer and his family go back to the simple life, the life of homespun clothes, of drudgery for a bare living; when labor goes back to a twelve-hour day, working for a mere existence; when the world puts off silk and puts on cotton. In fact, it will never be again, and the thinking man does not want it to return. The standard of living has been raised and with it has come the inevitable cost. A new normal has been established.
      The thought that anything will again be normal is the great illusion. ~Turner, Dennis & Lowry Lumber Co., August 1920  [a little altered —tg]

Return to "normal" prices in the lumber market, at least, is nothing more than a mirage which is swimming before the eyes of the public. For prices will never return to the heretofore normal, in the opinion of C. W. Tingle, assistant to the general manager of the Wilmington Sash and Door Company. ~"'Normal' Prices Like Mirage in Desert," The Delmarvia Star, Wilmington, Delaware, September 1920

To-day the world is grieving over and longing for the good old days before the war... But they were not good old days. You had simply gotten used to it — that is all. The sooner we realize that the World War has made necessary a new world norm the sooner we will be able to arrive at a basis for it. I am of the opinion that the phrase "getting back to normal" is an unhappy and an unfortunate one, if by getting back to normal is meant the pre-war conditions. Personally I do not believe it is possible. I believe it is simply another way, another form, of weeping over those "good old days." Heaven knows I am as desirous as anyone of reaching a normal, but I would reach forward and not backward for it. Before we can readjust to a new normal we must know what we mean by normal. ~Ethelbert Stewart, United States Commissioner of Labor Statistics, "The Future of Labor Statistics," May 1921  [a little altered —tg]

"The war is over. When can normal conditions be expected to return?" This question was asked in twenty different ways in our correspondence during the past three weeks. There will never be any returning or recurrence of past conditions, but the normal of newly born factors will have to be recognized. History contains no record of a turning-back after a great war, but it does invariably show that every calling and avocation has to adjust itself to the new horizon of possibilities created by the war. These are matters to be discussed and hammered out on the anvil of opinion in the coming months, to form the factors to make the new normal of the future. It is as important to industry as to politics. If there never was but one incurable distemper in industry, that is the ogre of price. ~American Stone Trade, published by American Stone Trade Company, Chicago, Fred K. Irvine, editor, December 1918  [modified —tg]

There is no exact agreement as to what constitutes business par. We have become accustomed in these latter years to accepting any new top record as natural and establishing it as a new normal. Then we're bitterly disappointed if it isn't maintained, and all our statistics go wrong. The river can't always stay at flood level. A logical normal is the average over a period of years. ~"Normal Business," Berkeley Daily Gazette, May 1930

I think the "new normal" for prices is "a delusion and a snare." The history of prices shows that there never has been any "normal." Throughout history the price level has constantly changed. Or, in other words, the purchasing power of the dollar or other monetary unit, has constantly changed in the inverse ratio. But there is always the illusion that a few years ago there was a "normal" which we want to reach again. People have always looked longingly back to the "good old times." Recently the oscillations of prices have been rapid. Reginald McKenna, president of the largest bank in the world, has so well said there is not and never has been any normal and, in the long run, one normal is as good as another, while the constant effort to cure inflation by deflation and deflation by inflation threatens us with an alternation of evils, and both are equally bad. What we want is a stable price level and once we have got it, whether it is high or low, it should be regarded as "normal." Without some plan we are sure to continue oscillating. No one can do more than guess as to what the future holds in store. The essence of normality in the price level is not a particular level of prices but constancy. An inconstant price level plays havoc. These alternations cost the world billions of dollars a year in waste motion, discontent, and injustice and some day we must surely put a stop to them. ~Irving Fisher, professor of political economy, Yale University, June 1922  [a little altered —tg]

People talk about resilience as an inner quality or a stable trait, and that's not the way the science is going... If we say you're "bouncing back," the idea is that somehow, you're returning to normal. But nobody ever goes back to the same normal; you're changed by your experience. ~Michael Ungar, Ph.D., Resilience Research Centre, Dalhousie University,,, as quoted in Wendy Helfenbaum, "Moving Forward," Costco Connection,, January 2024

      A good deal, and in the minds of many thoughtful persons altogether too much, has been said for the last year or more about "getting back to normal." The cataclysmic upheaval of the four years of "dreadful night" put nearly everything out of gear, and cast the old problems of organized society into totally new relations. The voice of the Croaking Pessimist was heard in every corner of the land.
      "Get back to normal?" What does it mean? And why should that empty phrase become the slogan in this great day? There is the flavor of defeat in the very words. "Get back" has no inspiration in it. It never has had. The slogan we need today is not "Get back" but "Go forward." The fact of the matter is that it is impossible for us to "get back to normal," that is, to the old normal. To attempt to do that would be the supremest folly. A new channel has been cut by the river and it cannot be turned back into the old channel again. The back track is the way of unnecessary hardship and disaster. The road to triumph stretches out ahead. The old normal is a delusion and a snare; it is gone; it is dwindling even as memory. Let us loose ourselves from the destroying meshes of the old normal, and set ourselves resolutely and with unshakable faith for the real tasks of the present day.
      It is the new normal, then, that beckons us; a better, nobler, truer, worthier normal, and one upon which we will contribute to the construction of a finer type of civilization in every land under the shining sun. Into the development of this new normal there ought to go all the product of those experiences — many of them mingled with the bitterness of disappointment and disillusionment — that have come out of the burning, fiery furnace of the last few years. For we have come into a great and wonderful and glorious day, and many of the old things have passed away, never to return; and while all things have not become new, yet the signs of newness are apparent to those who have eyes to see the things of God as they are developing for the blessing of mankind.
      No. The Church of God must not "get back to normal" — the old normal. It must go forward to a diviner normal. And as it advances it must lift this bruised, battered, bewildered — and blessed — old world to the higher levels where it can get the wider vision. We must not be dragged back now but surge forward with all our minds and hearts and souls and strength, for there are great things to be done. ~"Back to the Old or Forward to a New Normal," The Christian Advocate, New York, editor James R. Joy, assistant editor H. E. Woolever, January 1921  [modified —tg]

The war has also taught the monumental industries to wake up to the fact that higher costs and higher wages are normal with higher prices. Demonstration of the new normal level of prices is here just as sure as Spring. To recognize this fact and to apply it too, will bring prosperity in the ensuing summer. There can be no mistake in this. ~American Stone Trade: A Monthly Journal of Memorial Art, Sculpture, Architecture, and the Permanent Improvements in Public Parks and Cemeteries, Fred K. Irvine, ed., April 1919

The country has not yet returned to the normal condition of pre-war times nor yet established a new normal. It is generally understood that the new normal will see higher prices than would otherwise prevail had the war not disturbed conditions not only in this country but throughout the world. ~Willis C. Hawley, U.S. House of Representatives, September 1922

Remember that we are entering a new era in business, a more settled condition. Life for the majority of people is tending to become normal, not the old normality but a new normal, perhaps we might say we are entering a period of 'normalcy' if we want to be entirely up-to-date. Humph! There's something in that; a new word to describe a new condition. ~Anonymous silk manufacturer, summer 1920

      Writing last year under the title "The Elimination of Waste," we endeavoured to point out the folly of those who had long been talking about the return to "normal" conditions, inferring thereby, and generally directly stating, that it was pre-war conditions they referred to. But we showed in that article that it is not pre-war conditions we must look for, but a new normal of post-war conditions.
      It is the curse of language that it does not take into account the relative basis of things. As an essential practical expedient, we hang all our ideas and conceptions on tags or labels, so that there shall be a general accord of recognition. Very shortly, however, we forget that the tags and labels are of our own manufacture for our day-to-day convenience. We come to regard them as inherent to the conceptions labeled, with the result that because the names do not change we think the conceptions are similarly immutable.
      Thus it is with our conception of "normal," and, if anything, more so in this particular case. For we use the "normal" as the basis from which to judge the short-period variations, and thereby overlook the fact that the state of "normal" is itself relative to more fundamental conditions...
      If we recognise that we have to face a new normal as soon as present obstacles are passed, and not pine for the moon, and having recognised that fact, take the necessary steps, there is no reason why this new normal should not be as good if not better than the old. ~"Editorial: The New Normal," The Metal Industry, London, September 1923  [a little altered —tg]

During 1920 we believe conditions will react slightly towards normal and 1921 will show a distinct trend toward a new normal... ~Theodore T. Ellis, quoted in "Better Delivery of Supplies But Little Price Change, Predicted," Editor & Publisher, January 1920

To defer all buying until the tide has reached its lowest ebb is not the act of wisdom, for it is safe to assume that the pendulum, having swung to its extreme low, will then work back to what will be the new normal level. The first two months of 1921 will, in all probability, be strenuous ones for every line of activity... Strained financial conditions exist throughout the world. ~Popular Mechanics Magazine, "Comment and Review," December 1920  [a little altered —tg]

      To consider the problems before us, we must examine the questions: How shall we pass to the new normal with the least jar? In what respect should the new normal be shaped to differ from the old?
      Some contend that we should first envisage the new normal, and carve the measures of transition to suit its requirements. Others believe that we should cautiously feel our way through the period of transition, and arrive at what the new normal shall be by the road of experience. The first would attempt reconstruction by synthetic process; the second would achieve it by natural growth. Who shall say that a new normal, artificially compounded at this distance from the future, will work? Who shall say that a new normal, patiently sought through trial and error, will not work? ~Henry A. Wise Wood, address before the National Civic Federation, 1918 December 2nd  [modified —tg]

The influenza experience of the nineteenth century displays as its most striking feature the extraordinary and sudden increase in prevalence which took place following the epidemic of 1889–1891. In 1847, there was a pandemic of the first order, after which the influenza death rate returned to normal... After some minor disturbances, the world-wide outbreak of 1889–1891 took place, following which the influenza death-rate remained at a new normal level, and has shown no tendency to decline ever since. Probably the increase has in reality been gradual, although precipitated by an outbreak of great severity. ~"Book Reviews and Notices: Report on the Pandemic of Influenza, 1918–19, Ministry of Health, 1920," Transactions, October 1921

Good for the Jefferson Standard Life! It has grasped the significance of world changes and expressed it in a compact formula that leads somewhere. "Not 'back to normal,' but creating a new normal!" is its slogan. Both prophesy and fight are in the sentence. We shall never get back to the old normal. If we should it would be an indication of decay or of failure. ~"Editor's Comment," The Insurance Field: Life Edition, eds. Young E. Allison, C. I. Hitchcock, Charles Dobbs, A. H. Seekamp, April 1921

      When shall we get back to normal? This query has been constant and almost universal since the close of the war. Citizens in all classes and conditions of life have thought and have expressed this question. Chiefly the query has concerned itself with the cost of living. When will food be cheaper? Clothing? Coal? It is the "return to normal" in the matter of prices that concerns the average man.
      Will there be a return to normal? Shall we ever go back to where we were before the war? Close students of economics and experts in the history of finance seem to be pretty well agreed that prices will not go back to old levels. We shall get "back to normal," but it will be a new normal. According to historians, such a development has always followed a mighty upheaval like the world war. All great movements go to the extreme for a time, but the pendulum swings back. In the process, however, there is almost inevitably a change in the pendulum radius. The law of reaction has begun to operate, and before long stability will come unless some other upheaval should arise and prolong the period of disturbance. ~"Back to Normal," The Deseret News, August 1920  [a little altered —tg]

The new "normal" which I am now publishing will be of far greater interest than the old. It will serve as a sort of bulls-eye which we are trying to hit... The 1926 base overthrows the old and dangerous notion of a return to pre-war "normalcy" and substitutes a new and hopeful "normal." ~Irving Fisher, professor of economics, Yale University, "Prosperity Year Is New Normal," January 1928

      The country has at last decided that things are wrong and must be improved. We have come to see that we cannot go on in the same old way, that methods of manufacture and trade and finance must be revamped to meet new conditions, that new ideas must be worked out in mechanics and economics, that new forms of appeal must be made to the buying public. At last we have stopped dreaming about a return to a pre-slump normal, and have begun to realize that we must make a new normal. We are now facing forward...
      This is what a business depression, if deep and serious enough, is good for. Sooner or later, business will revive as Nature revives after a long winter. And this new spirit of courage and resourcefulness — which is really the old American spirit returning — if it continues, will carry us higher and farther than we have ever gone before. ~"New Foundation for Prosperity," The Oxnard Daily Courier, May 1931

The new normal ain't normal. ~Scott Stantis, Prickly City, 2019 November 11th,

The "new normal" has nothing to do with "normal." ~Internet meme, c. 2021

How normal is the new normal? ~A. Manuti, B. Van der Heijden, P. Kruyen, A. De Vos, M. Zaharie, A. Lo Presti, "Editorial: Individual and Organizational Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic," in Frontiers in Psychology, June 2022

Is this new normal really new or is it a reiteration of the old? ~Jeff Clyde G Corpuz, "Adapting to the culture of 'new normal': an emerging response to COVID-19," Journal of Public Health, June 2021

The abnormal is the new normal. ~Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, 2012

      Since September 11, America has struggled to find a new normal, one that could wrap itself around the sharp edges of terror and war.
      We tried a thousand ways to adapt: We flew less and prayed more. We hoisted flags and draped holiday greens in red, white and blue. We canceled trips to Las Vegas and went to grandma's house instead. We gave blood, wrote checks to charity and dusted off atlases to find Kabul and Jalalabad. We cried.
      Day by day, we came to realize it wasn't just the world that had changed. So had we. ~David Foster, "After Sept. 11… Desperately seeking normal, America trudges on," December 2001

As coverage of the tragedies that struck New York City and Washington, D.C., unfolded last week, the phrase "the new normal" began to circulate, referring to how the return to a pre-attack routine would end up somehow different. ~Marc Schiffman, "Radio Holds America's Hand," Billboard, 2001 September 29th,

      New Normal is a world of increasing "global weirding" to use Hunter Lovins' term, where Katrina-like dislocation becomes increasingly frequent, our favorite plants and animals are no longer found in our neighborhoods and shifting rates of change in the adaptability in different parts of the food chain can produce unanticipated, and potentially catastrophic results.
      New Normal is actually saving for a rainy day and living within our means. If this newfound prudence sticks, it will be a great thing for this country. Though, I have to say, the speed with which people forgot the lessons of $150 per barrel oil was about as fast as a Tesla off the line. ~Rob Watson, "New Normal,", 2009

      The term "new normal" gets bandied about a lot. It's meant, of course, to provoke alarm — to point out we're not experiencing freak aberrations, but rather the entirely predictable long-term effects of pumping huge quantities of greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere. But the phrase, to me, also has the connotation that now, at least, is "normal," as if we've been riding an elevator of global temperature rise, and just arrived at the top floor. "It sure is hot up here at the new normal," we say. "Good thing it won't get any worse."
      Unfortunately, though, it will. The changes we are experiencing are only accelerating. Each new season is a baseline from which things will get weirder still. ~Alejandro de la Garza, "When It Comes to Climate Change, There's No Such Thing as a New Normal,", July 2023

Is it nearly over? In 2021 people have been yearning for something like stability. Even those who accepted that they would never get their old lives back hoped for a new normal. Yet as 2022 draws near, it is time to face the world's predictable unpredictability. The pattern for the rest of the 2020s is not the familiar routine of the pre-covid years, but the turmoil and bewilderment of the pandemic era. The new normal is already here. ~The Economist, Leaders section, December 2021,

The time when the national routine settled down after 9/11 was called the "new normal"... [Now] Something is happening to the national capital and whether old, new, or new-new, normal doesn't seem the word to describe it. ~Dale McFeatters, "Another new normal," April 2003

I don't want to have anything to do with it, and neither should you. The new normal won't work. ~John C. Dvorak, "The Economy: A No-Confidence Vote," PC Magazine, September 2002,

      If you listen to business and technology pundits, you may have heard that the post COVID-19 world will be completely different from the pre COVID-19 world. Sound familiar? In the midst of a crisis, it's tempting to label any major disruption as ushering in a new normal. However, at least in terms of business models, the new normal going forwards may be a lot more like the old normal than we think.
      That's not to say there won't be accelerated innovation and plenty of new business models, products and services appearing, but most businesses will likely be able to operate as usual with a few strategic pivots and changes to their standard processes as well as essential safeguards. ~Nicholas D. Evans, "Post COVID-19 business models: Finding the new normal,", 2020 April 20th

Between geopolitical tensions, the pandemic, social justice concerns and climate urgency, it seems like we are never out of crisis mode. If this is the new normal, how should leaders lead?, "How Do You Lead in a World in Permanent Crisis Mode?," hosted by Mary Mesaglio, 2022

When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, the best of our new normal will survive to enrich our lives and our work in the future. ~Jeff Clyde G Corpuz, "Adapting to the culture of 'new normal': an emerging response to COVID-19," Journal of Public Health, June 2021

      Remember those days 12–18 months ago when we were saying that we're headed into a new normal? In the thick of the pandemic, waiting for things to reach some sort of equilibrium? Well then what? War in Europe, two months of COVID lockdown in Shanghai, inflation run amok, food scarcity and fuel shortages. What does the next 12–18 months look like? It's anybody's guess...
      [B]ut we've come to a point where we need to recognize that our supply chains need to adapt to the climatic events that are occurring now... We're faced with unprecedented changes... and a new normal doesn't seem to be emerging... [I]n the face of uncertainty, we need to build sustainable resilience that addresses the most likely scenarios, even though we don't fully understand them. This may lead to suboptimized outcomes, but it might be the best we can do in the absence of normality. ~Wade L. McDaniel, VP Distinguished Advisor, Gartner Supply Chain, "There is No New Normal,", June 2022

A plurality of experts think sweeping societal change will make life worse for most people as greater inequality, rising authoritarianism and rampant misinformation take hold in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Still, a portion believe life will be better in a "tele-everything" world where workplaces, health care and social activity improve. ~Janna Anderson, Lee Rainie, and Emily A. Vogels, "Experts Say the 'New Normal' in 2025 Will Be Far More Tech-Driven, Presenting More Big Challenges," Pew Research Center,, February 2021

The new normal is still emerging... ~Jeff Clyde G Corpuz, "Adapting to the culture of 'new normal': an emerging response to COVID-19," Journal of Public Health, June 2021

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published 2022 Jun 11
revised 2023 Nov 5–6
last saved 2024 Jan 12