Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective com·mon \ˈkä-mən\

Simple Definition of common

  • : belonging to or shared by two or more people or groups

  • : done by many people

  • : occurring or appearing frequently : not rare

Full Definition of common

  1. 1 a :  of or relating to a community at large :  public <work for the common good> b :  known to the community <common nuisances>

  2. 2 a :  belonging to or shared by two or more individuals or things or by all members of a group <a common friend> <buried in a common grave> b :  belonging equally to two or more mathematical entities <triangles with a common base> c :  having two or more branches <common carotid artery>

  3. 3 a :  occurring or appearing frequently :  familiar <a common sight> b :  of the best known or most frequently seen kind —used especially of plants and animals <the common housefly> c :  vernacular 2 <common names>

  4. 4 a :  widespread, general <common knowledge> b :  characterized by a lack of privilege or special status <common people> c :  just satisfying accustomed criteria :  elementary <common decency>

  5. 5 a :  falling below ordinary standards :  second-rate b :  lacking refinement :  coarse

  6. 6 :  denoting nominal relations by a single linguistic form that in a more highly inflected language might be denoted by two or more different forms <common gender> <common case>

  7. 7 :  of, relating to, or being common stock

com·mon·ly adverb
com·mon·ness play \-mən-nəs\ noun

Examples of common

  1. They have a common ancestor.

  2. The people on the island have a sense of common identity.

  3. It is common practice for one town's fire department to help another town when there is a big fire.

  4. Electric windows are a common feature in new cars.

  5. Smith is a common name.

  6. I think some of the most common flowers are also some of the prettiest.

  7. cures for the common cold

Origin of common

Middle English commun, from Anglo-French, from Latin communis — more at mean

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of common

common, ordinary, plain, familiar, popular, vulgar mean generally met with and not in any way special, strange, or unusual. common implies usual everyday quality or frequency of occurrence <a common error> <lacked common honesty> and may additionally suggest inferiority or coarseness <common manners>. ordinary stresses conformance in quality or kind with the regular order of things <an ordinary pleasant summer day> <a very ordinary sort of man>. plain is likely to suggest homely simplicity <plain hard-working people>. familiar stresses the fact of being generally known and easily recognized <a familiar melody>. popular applies to what is accepted by or prevalent among people in general sometimes in contrast to upper classes or special groups <a writer of popular romances>. vulgar, otherwise similar to popular, is likely to carry derogatory connotations (as of inferiority or coarseness) <souvenirs designed to appeal to the vulgar taste>.

Rhymes with common



noun com·mon

Simple Definition of common

  • : a public area or park usually in the center of a town or city

  • commons : a place where meals are served at a school, college, etc.

Full Definition of common

  1. 1 plural :  the common people

  2. 2 plural but sing in constr :  a dining hall

  3. 3 plural but sing or plural in constr often capitalized a :  the political group or estate comprising the commoners b :  the parliamentary representatives of the commoners c :  house of commons

  4. 4 :  the legal right of taking a profit in another's land in common with the owner or others

  5. 5 :  a piece of land subject to common use: as a :  undivided land used especially for pasture b :  a public open area in a municipality

  6. 6 a :  a religious service suitable for any of various festivals b :  ordinary 2

  7. 7 :  common stock

in common
  1. :  shared together <has a lot in common with his neighbors>

Examples of common

  1. The campus has several dining commons.

14th Century

First Known Use of common

14th century

Medical Dictionary


adjective com·mon \ˈkäm-ən\

Medical Definition of common

  1. :  formed of or dividing into two or more branches <the common facial vein> <common iliac vessels>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up common? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 11, 2016

the holder of an office

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

2.2 pounds 16.96 pounds 196.5 pounds 100 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.