This was a spectacular flight over Ten Sleep Canyon on the western front of the Big Horn Mountains, but the flight itself was truly nominal.
Nominal. Why isn’t it more popular to use in everyday conversation? During the Perseverance mission to Mars, that word must have been used over 100 times during the last couple hours of the vehicles final approach to the red planet. NASA has been using it for years. Why hasn’t it caught on yet?
Even Elon Musk used the word recently when he tweeted about newest Space X Starship prototype, “Starship landing nominal.”
A typical dictionary definition for nominal is something like, “functioning normally or acceptably.” Yet, how might it sound in everyday language?
“Hey Morgan, how are you?”
“Oh, I’m pretty much nominal.”
“His graphic design project is nominal.”
“That was a nominal meal!”
Perhaps the problem with “nominal” is it sounds too much like “normal,” and for anything to be normal, it’s just not worthy of mentioning.
In this day and age, we don’t like talking about things that are nominal. In fact, we seem to prefer hearing about one’s troubles or misfortunes rather than about all things that are nominal in their life.
Still, I think it has a chance. If the word “dope” can go from the nickname of drugs to something that is fantastic, there’s certainly hope for “nominal” as well.