a common person, as distinguished from one with rank, status, etc.
  1. any person ranking below a peer; a person without a title of nobility.
  2. a member of the House of Commons.
  3. (at Oxford and some other universities) a student who pays for his or her commons and other expenses and is not supported by any scholarship or foundation.
a person who has a joint right in common land.

Origin of commoner

First recorded in 1275–1325, commoner is from the Middle English word cominer. See common, -er1



adjective, com·mon·er, com·mon·est.

belonging equally to, or shared alike by, two or more or all in question: common property; common interests.
pertaining or belonging equally to an entire community, nation, or culture; public: a common language or history; a common water-supply system.
joint; united: a common defense.
widespread; general; ordinary: common knowledge.
of frequent occurrence; usual; familiar: a common event; a common mistake.
hackneyed; trite.
of mediocre or inferior quality; mean; low: a rough-textured suit of the most common fabric.
coarse; vulgar: common manners.
lacking rank, station, distinction, etc.; unexceptional; ordinary: a common soldier; common people; the common man; a common thief.
Dialect. friendly; sociable; unaffected.
Anatomy. forming or formed by two or more parts or branches: the common carotid arteries.
Prosody. (of a syllable) able to be considered as either long or short.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. (of a noun) belonging to the common gender.
Mathematics. bearing a similar relation to two or more entities.
of, relating to, or being common stock: common shares.


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.
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).
commons, (used with a singular or plural verb)
  1. the commonalty; the nonruling class.
  2. the body of people not of noble birth or not ennobled, as represented in England by the House of Commons.
  3. (initial capital letter)the representatives of this body.
  4. (initial capital letter)the House of Commons.
  1. (used with a singular verb)a large dining room, especially at a university or college.
  2. (usually used with a plural verb) provided in such a dining room.
  3. (usually used with a plural verb)food or provisions for any group.
(sometimes initial capital letter) Ecclesiastical.
  1. an office or form of service used on a festival of a particular kind.
  2. the ordinary of the Mass, especially those parts sung by the choir.
  3. the part of the missal and breviary containing Masses and offices of those saints assigned to them.
  1. the community or public.
  2. the common people.

Origin of common

1250–1300; Middle English comun < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin commūnis common, presumably orig. “sharing common duties,” akin to mūnia duties of an office, mūnus task, duty, gift < a base *moin-, cognate with mean2; cf. com-, immune
Related formscom·mon·ness, nouno·ver·com·mon, adjectiveo·ver·com·mon·ly, adverbo·ver·com·mon·ness, nounqua·si-com·mon, adjectivequa·si-com·mon·ly, adverb
Can be confusedcommon mutual reciprocal (see usage note at mutual)

Synonyms for common

Synonym study

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.

Antonyms for common Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for commoner

civilian, peasant, bourgeois, citizen, bourgeoisie

Examples from the Web for commoner

Contemporary Examples of commoner

Historical Examples of commoner

  • Do the Outlook and the Commoner imply progress since the Stagirite?

    'Tis Sixty Years Since

    Charles Francis Adams

  • How little hope there is in the commoner phases of religion!

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • I must make him believe that I prefer a commoner for my son-in-law, or we are all undone with him.

  • Do you suppose he would have been allowed to marry a commoner?

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

  • Nothing is commoner than the talent and beauty of American girls.

    The Coast of Bohemia

    William Dean Howells

British Dictionary definitions for commoner



a person who does not belong to the nobility
a person who has a right in or over common land jointly with another or others
British a student at a university or other institution who is not on a scholarship



belonging to or shared by two or more peoplecommon property
belonging to or shared by members of one or more nations or communities; publica common culture
of ordinary standard; averagecommon decency
prevailing; widespreadcommon opinion
widely known or frequently encountered; ordinarya common brand of soap
widely known and notoriousa common nuisance
derogatory considered by the speaker to be low-class, vulgar, or coarsea common accent
(prenominal) having no special distinction, rank, or statusthe common man
  1. having a specified relationship with a group of numbers or quantitiescommon denominator
  2. (of a tangent) tangential to two or more circles
prosody (of a syllable) able to be long or short, or (in nonquantitative verse) stressed or unstressed
grammar (in certain languages) denoting or belonging to a gender of nouns, esp one that includes both masculine and feminine referentsLatin sacerdos is common
  1. having branchesthe common carotid artery
  2. serving more than one functionthe common bile duct
Christianity of or relating to the common of the Mass or divine office
common or garden informal ordinary; unexceptional


(sometimes plural) a tract of open public land, esp one now used as a recreation area
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. a form of the proper of the Mass used on festivals that have no special proper of their own
  2. the ordinary of the Mass
archaic the ordinary people; the public, esp those undistinguished by rank or title
in common mutually held or used with another or others
See also commons
Derived Formscommonness, noun

Word Origin for common

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

Word Origin and History for commoner

early 14c. (in commoners), from common (adj.).



c.1300, "belonging to all, general," from Old French comun "common, general, free, open, public" (9c., Modern French commun), from Latin communis "in common, public, shared by all or many; general, not specific; familiar, not pretentious," from PIE *ko-moin-i- "held in common," compound adjective formed from *ko- "together" + *moi-n-, suffixed form of root *mei- "change, exchange" (see mutable), hence literally "shared by all."

Second element of the compound also is the source of Latin munia "duties, public duties, functions," those related to munia "office." Perhaps reinforced in Old French by the Germanic form of PIE *ko-moin-i- (cf. Old English gemæne "common, public, general, universal;" see mean (adj.)), which came to French via Frankish.

Used disparagingly of women and criminals since c.1300. Common pleas is 13c., from Anglo-French communs plets, hearing civil actions by one subject against another as opposed to pleas of the crown. Common prayer is contrasted with private prayer. Common stock is attested from 1888.



late 15c., "land held in common," from common (adj.). Commons "the third estate of the English people as represented in Parliament," is from late 14c. Latin communis also served as a noun meaning "common property, state, commonwealth."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with commoner


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.