com·​mon | \ˈkä-mən \

Definition of common 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of or relating to a community at large : public work for the common good

b : known to the community common nuisances

2a : 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 common interests

b : belonging equally to two or more mathematical entities triangles with a common base

c : having two or more branches common carotid artery

3a : 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 sense 2 common names

4a : widespread, general common knowledge

b : characterized by a lack of privilege or special status common people a common laborer

c : just satisfying accustomed criteria : elementary common decency

5a : falling below ordinary standards : second-rate Oh hard is the bed they have made him, / And common the blanket and cheap …— A. E. Housman

b : lacking refinement : coarse said, in his common vulgar way, the city would have to lump it— J. K. Jerome

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 : of, relating to, or being common stock



Definition of common (Entry 2 of 2)

1 commons plural : the common people

2 commons plural in form but singular in construction : a dining hall Students usually have their meals at the commons.

3 commons or Commons plural in form but singular or plural in construction

a : the political group or estate comprising the commoners

b : the parliamentary representatives of the commoners

c : house of commons

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

5 : a piece of land subject to common use: such as

a : undivided land used especially for pasture

b : a public open area in a municipality A food and jazz festival will be held at the town common.

6a : a religious service suitable for any of various festivals

b : ordinary sense 2

in common

: shared together has a lot in common with his neighbors

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Other Words from common


commonly adverb
commonness \ˈkä-​mən-​nəs \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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


common, ordinary, and familiar mean occurring often. common is used for something that is of the everyday sort and frequently occurs. Fishing boats are a common sight around here. ordinary is used when something is of the usual standard. I had an ordinary day. familiar is used of something that is well-known and easily recognized. That song is familiar.

Examples of common in a Sentence


They have a common ancestor. The people on the island have a sense of common identity. It is common practice for one town's fire department to help another town when there is a big fire. Electric windows are a common feature in new cars. “Smith” is a common name. I think some of the most common flowers are also some of the prettiest. cures for the common cold


The campus has several dining commons.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Apparently, this is pretty common—especially with first-time moms. Jennifer Lance, Glamour, "Khloé Kardashian Opened Up About the Breastfeeding Problem No One Talks About—and Women Are Thanking Her," 20 Nov. 2018 Madiera, the Portuguese fortified wine, is also spectacular with the nutty, spiced, and caramel flavors that are so common in Thanksgiving desserts. Kristin Tice Studeman, Vogue, "The Best Wine for Every Thanksgiving Scenario," 19 Nov. 2018 Heavy wood furniture, made from raw logs, boards, and stone is common. Sienna Fantozzi, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need To Know About Rustic Design," 26 Oct. 2018 Trading for crops before embracing agriculture is common. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "When Farmers and Foragers First Met," 24 Oct. 2018 Scrolling through counties and power companies, 98 to 100 percent blackouts are common. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Hurricane Michael Death Toll Rises to 11, Infrastructure in Crisis Throughout Southeast," 11 Oct. 2018 Most features will be common to all Spectre Folio SKUs: Shell: Full-grain leather, in Cognac Brown initially. Melissa Riofrio, PCWorld, "The HP Spectre Folio is a leather-clad laptop that's luxurious," 1 Oct. 2018 What do a nuclear engineer and a registered nurse have in common? Mary Beth Griggs, The Verge, "New congressional members with science backgrounds may help shape national policy," 7 Nov. 2018 Meanwhile, Stacey Abrams is committed to common-sense gun laws and has been endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Gun Control Measures in the Midterms: How You Can Make a Difference With Your Vote," 30 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Climate change is a classic tragedy of the commons: every country acting in its own self-interest contributes to depleting a joint resource, making the world worse for everyone. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "The US would suffer some of the biggest costs of climate change," 30 Sep. 2018 But communism is the only thing which says all things should be brought into the hands of commons to benefit all people. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Meet Ash Sarkar, the Communist Who Called Piers Morgan an "Idiot"," 15 July 2018 The biggest thing Rhodes and Mercury had in common was perhaps their flair, hers visible in her electric wigs and heavy makeup, his in his gender-fluid costumes. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Ahead of the Release of Bohemian Rhapsody, Zandra Rhodes Models the Wedding Top Freddie Mercury Fell in Love With," 30 Oct. 2018 During training camp the Tiger-Cats slept in twin beds at Les Prince Hall, swiped into the commons for team meals, held nightly meetings inside academic auditoriums. Alex Prewitt,, "Johnny Manziel’s Last Chance—as a Backup in the CFL," 16 June 2018 Coughing and rustling is common between movements at New York concerts, but this time there seemed almost a collective gasp after the first movement, as if listeners had been holding their breath throughout. New York Times, "Review: We Held Our Breath Through Simon Rattle’s Mahler," 8 May 2018 This would be a tragedy of the commons and for the Constitution. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Interstate Tax Grab," 15 Apr. 2018 Short says to look out for these commons signals that our bodies are fatigued and our ability to drive may be impaired: Yawning. NBC News, "How to tell if you're too tired to drive — and what to do if you are," 8 July 2018 The house, built only a few blocks from the 143rd Street railroad station, was made in an architectural style common at the time and used lightweight lumber available through the railroad. David Gleisner, Daily Southtown, "Orland Park's 'first and oldest' home is on the market," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'common.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of common


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for common


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


see common entry 1

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Statistics for common

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for common

The first known use of common was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for common



English Language Learners Definition of common

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

: done by many people

: occurring or appearing frequently : not rare



English Language Learners Definition of common (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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.


com·​mon | \ˈkä-mən \

Kids Definition of common

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : affecting, belonging to, needed by, or used by everybody for the common good a common room

2 : shared by two or more individuals or by the members of a family or group a common ancestor

3 : general entry 1 sense 1 common knowledge

4 : occurring, appearing, or used frequently a common sight a common name

5 : not above the average in rank or status a common soldier

6 : not privileged or elite “… the common folks … live and die unnoticed.”— L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz

7 : expected from polite and decent people common courtesy

in common

: shared together We have a lot in common.



Kids Definition of common (Entry 2 of 2)

: land (as a park) owned and used by a community


com·​mon | \ˈkäm-ən \

Medical Definition of common 

: formed of or dividing into two or more branches the common facial vein common iliac vessels

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Legal Definition of common 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of or relating to a community at large : public common defense

b : known to the community a common thief

2 : belonging to or shared by two or more persons or things or by all members of a group when the insured and the beneficiary perish in a common disaster common areas of the building

3 : of or relating to common stock common shares



Legal Definition of common (Entry 2 of 2)

1  plural capitalized : house of commons

2 : the legal right of taking a profit in another's land in common with the owner or others the common of estovers the common of pasture

3 : a piece of land subject to common use: as

a : land jointly owned and used especially for pasture

b : a public open area in a municipality

4 : a condition of shared ownership : a condition in which a right is shared with an interest held by another person held the estate in common — see also tenancy in common at tenancy — compare severalty sense 1

5 : common stock at stock

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More from Merriam-Webster on common

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with common

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for common

Spanish Central: Translation of common

Nglish: Translation of common for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of common for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about common

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