Normalcy vs. Normality

I got a question from the Peanut Gallery. Steve asks:
“Why is ‘normalcy’ increasingly being used when there is the perfectly good word ‘normality’ that could be used instead?

Webster’s dictionary says that “normality” is the noun form of the adjective “normal,” and then right beneath that it says that “normalcy” is the state or fact of being normal. So I’m thinking they are basically interchangeable.

“The word ‘normalcy’ had been around for more than half a century when President Warren G. Harding was assailed in the newspapers for having used it in a 1921 speech,” says Paul Brians, Emeritus Professor of English at Washington State University. “Some folks are still upset, but in the US ‘normalcy’ is a perfectly normal—if uncommon—synonym for ‘normality.'”

The Grammarist says “… normality and normalcy are both accepted, and they have no difference in meaning, but the former is generally preferred to the latter. Normality is centuries older and linguistically more logical than normalcy. Nouns ending in –cy are conventionally derived from adjectives ending in –t.”

Examples:
Pregnant => pregnancy
Complacent => complacency
Hesitant => hesitancy
Secret => secrecy

“Adjectives ending in –l usually take the –ity suffix. … Most publications with high editorial standards prefer normality.”

Generally you would want to pair “abnormality” with “normality” rather than “normalcy.”
And while I don’t normally condone democracy in grammatical matters, Google has 5,450,000 hits for normalcy and 7,010,000 hits for normality.

One of the definitions of “normal” is “characterized by average development or intelligence; free from mental disorder; sane.”
Thus, normality equals sanity.

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