[ kom-uhn ]
See synonyms for: commoncommonercommonestcommons on

adjective,com·mon·er, com·mon·est.
  1. belonging equally to, or shared alike by, two or more or all in question: common property;common interests.

  2. pertaining or belonging equally to an entire community, nation, or culture; public: a common language or history;a common water-supply system.

  1. joint; united: a common defense.

  2. widespread; general; universal: common knowledge.

  3. of frequent occurrence; usual; familiar: a common event;a common mistake.

  4. of mediocre or inferior quality; mean; low: a rough-textured suit of the most common fabric.

  5. coarse; vulgar: common manners.

  6. lacking rank, station, distinction, etc.; unexceptional; ordinary: a common soldier;common people;the common man;a common thief.

  7. Dialect. friendly; sociable; unaffected.

  8. Anatomy. forming or formed by two or more parts or branches: the common carotid arteries.

  9. Prosody. (of a syllable) able to be considered as either long or short.

  10. Grammar.

    • not belonging to an inflectional paradigm; fulfilling different functions that in some languages require different inflected forms: English nouns are in the common case whether used as subject or object.

    • constituting one of two genders of a language, especially a gender comprising nouns that were formerly masculine or feminine: Swedish nouns are either common or neuter.

    • noting a word that may refer to either a male or a female: French élève has common gender. English lacks a common gender pronoun in the third person singular.

    • (of a noun) belonging to the common gender.

  11. Mathematics. bearing a similar relation to two or more entities.

  12. of, relating to, or being common stock: common shares.

  1. Often commons. Chiefly New England. a tract of land owned or used jointly by the residents of a community, usually a central square or park in a city or town.

  2. Law. the right or liberty, in common with other persons, to take profit from the land or waters of another, as by pasturing animals on another's land (common of pasturage ) or fishing in another's waters (common of piscary ).

  1. commons, (used with a singular or plural verb)

    • the commonalty; the nonruling class.

    • the body of people not of noble birth or not ennobled, as represented in England by the House of Commons.

    • Commons, the representatives of this body.

    • Commons, the House of Commons.

  2. commons,

    • (used with a singular verb) a large dining room, especially at a university or college.

    • (usually used with a plural verb)British. food provided in such a dining room.

    • (usually used with a plural verb) food or provisions for any group.

  3. Sometimes Commons .Ecclesiastical.

    • an office or form of service used on a festival of a particular kind.

    • the ordinary of the Mass, especially those parts sung by the choir.

    • the part of the missal and breviary containing Masses and offices of those saints assigned to them.

  4. Obsolete.

    • the community or public.

    • the common people.

Idioms about common

  1. in common, in joint possession or use; shared equally: They have a love of adventure in common.

Origin of common

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English comun, from Anglo-French, Old French, from Latin commūnis “common,” presumably originally “sharing common duties,” akin to mūnia “duties of an office,” mūnus “task, duty, gift,” from an unattested base moin-, cognate with mean2; cf. com-, immune

synonym study For common

4. See general. 7-9. Common, vulgar, ordinary refer, often with derogatory connotations of cheapness or inferiority, to what is usual or most often experienced. Common applies to what is accustomed, usually experienced, or inferior, to the opposite of what is exclusive or aristocratic: The park is used by the common people. Vulgar properly means belonging to the people, or characteristic of common people; it connotes low taste, coarseness, or ill breeding: the vulgar view of things; vulgar in manners and speech. Ordinary refers to what is to be expected in the usual order of things; it means average or below average: That is a high price for something of such ordinary quality.

Other words for common

Opposites for common

Other words from common

  • com·mon·ness, noun
  • o·ver·com·mon, adjective
  • o·ver·com·mon·ly, adverb
  • o·ver·com·mon·ness, noun
  • quasi-common, adjective
  • qua·si-com·mon·ly, adverb

Words Nearby common Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use common in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for common


/ (ˈkɒmən) /

  1. belonging to or shared by two or more people: common property

  2. belonging to or shared by members of one or more nations or communities; public: a common culture

  1. of ordinary standard; average: common decency

  2. prevailing; widespread: common opinion

  3. widely known or frequently encountered; ordinary: a common brand of soap

  4. widely known and notorious: a common nuisance

  5. derogatory considered by the speaker to be low-class, vulgar, or coarse: a common accent

  6. (prenominal) having no special distinction, rank, or status: the common man

  7. maths

    • having a specified relationship with a group of numbers or quantities: common denominator

    • (of a tangent) tangential to two or more circles

  8. prosody (of a syllable) able to be long or short, or (in nonquantitative verse) stressed or unstressed

  9. grammar (in certain languages) denoting or belonging to a gender of nouns, esp one that includes both masculine and feminine referents: Latin sacerdos is common

  10. anatomy

    • having branches: the common carotid artery

    • serving more than one function: the common bile duct

  11. Christianity of or relating to the common of the Mass or divine office

  12. common or garden informal ordinary; unexceptional

  1. (sometimes plural) a tract of open public land, esp one now used as a recreation area

  2. law the right to go onto someone else's property and remove natural products, as by pasturing cattle or fishing (esp in the phrase right of common)

  1. Christianity

    • a form of the proper of the Mass used on festivals that have no special proper of their own

    • the ordinary of the Mass

  2. archaic the ordinary people; the public, esp those undistinguished by rank or title

  3. in common mutually held or used with another or others

Origin of common

C13: from Old French commun, from Latin commūnis general, universal

Derived forms of common

  • commonness, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with common


In addition to the idioms beginning with common

  • common cause
  • common ground
  • common touch, the

also see:

  • in common

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.