adjective, com·mon·er, com·mon·est.


Nearby words

  1. commodity,
  2. commodity exchange,
  3. commodity futures trading commission,
  4. commodore,
  5. commodus,
  6. common agricultural policy,
  7. common antigen,
  8. common basal vein,
  9. common bile duct,
  10. common business oriented language


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

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 forms
Can be confusedcommon mutual reciprocal (see usage note at mutual)

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

Examples from the Web for commons

British Dictionary definitions for commons



(functioning as plural) people not of noble birth viewed as forming a political order
(functioning as plural) the lower classes as contrasted to the ruling classes of society; the commonalty
(functioning as singular) British a building or hall for dining, recreation, etc, usually attached to a college
(usually functioning as plural) British food or rations (esp in the phrase short commons)



the Commons See House of Commons



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 commons
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with commons


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.