[kom-uh n-welth]


Nearby words

  1. commonplace book,
  2. commons,
  3. commons, house of,
  4. commonsensical,
  5. commonweal,
  6. commonwealth day,
  7. commonwealth of australia,
  8. commonwealth of england,
  9. commonwealth of independent states,
  10. commonwealth of nations

Origin of commonwealth

1375–1425; late Middle English commun welthe

Commonwealth of Nations


a voluntary association of independent nations and dependent territories linked by historical ties (as parts of the former British Empire) and cooperating on matters of mutual concern, especially regarding economics and trade.
Also called the Commonwealth. Formerly British Commonwealth, British Commonwealth of Nations. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for commonwealth

British Dictionary definitions for commonwealth



the people of a state or nation viewed politically; body politic
a state or nation in which the people possess sovereignty; republic
the body politic organized for the general good
a group of persons united by some common interest
obsolete the general good; public welfare


noun the Commonwealth

an association of sovereign states, almost all of which were at some time dependencies of the UK. All member states recognize the reigning British sovereign as Head of the CommonwealthOfficial name: the Commonwealth of Nations
  1. the republic that existed in Britain from 1649 to 1660
  2. the part of this period up to 1653, when Cromwell became Protector
the official designation of Australia, four states of the US (Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia), and Puerto Rico
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 commonwealth



late 15c., "public welfare, general good," from common (adj.) + wealth (n.); meaning "the state" is attested from 1510s; applied specifically to the government of England in the period 1649-1660.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for commonwealth


A government established in Britain and Ireland in 1649, after the execution of King Charles I. It was in the form of a republic, under the leadership of the parliament. Oliver Cromwell soon assumed the supreme power in the Commonwealth and was given the title Lord Protector. After Cromwell's death in 1658, the Commonwealth quickly lost power, and the Restoration of the monarchy followed in 1660.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.