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

While most of their testimonials weren’t heavy on tech specs, there were some common threads. Lauren Goode, WIRED, "Apple's MacBook Pros Get Faster Chips, New Keyboards (Kinda)," 12 July 2018 One common thread with the Sixers, Harris said, is that putting money into a college program won’t cause overnight success. Mike Jensen,, "76ers owner Josh Harris gives $1 million gift to Penn wrestling," 11 July 2018 Steele said CHP Grass Valley is attempting to analyze the various collisions for a common thread to make the road safer. Julia Sclafani, sacbee, "'We are at a loss': CHP is unsure why this span of highway in Grass Valley is so deadly," 6 July 2018 The experiences of Jasmine, Kristy, Celena, and the other women who have benefited from social enterprises have at least one common thread: hope. Tracy Saelinger, Woman's Day, "These 3 Companies Help At-Risk Women and Are Changing the World," 2 July 2018 After interviewing several stars who've landed HGTV shows, there have been a few common threads — beyond having a passion for design and, well, actually being able to execute those projects. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "3 Things You Should Do If You Dream Of Being On HGTV," 29 June 2018 Southworth said entitlement is a common thread among men who turn violent., "The Capital Gazette Shooting Is A Tragic Reminder: Take Abuse Of Women Seriously.," 29 June 2018 One of the few common threads running through all her work was its release through the traditional major label structure -- Crow's first eight albums came out on A&M, while the previous two were through Warner Bros. Grant Rindner, Billboard, "Sheryl Crow Releases New Song 'Wouldn't Want to Be Like You' Through Stem Instead of a Record Label," 25 June 2018 Are Grande and Davidson trying to rub our common faces in their blissful love life? Meagan Fredette,, "Are Justin Bieber & Ariana Grande Trying To One-Up Each Other On PDA?," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 The school’s center will also have a large commons area where students will eat lunch. Meredith Colias-pete, Post-Tribune, "New Illiana Christian High School set to open in August," 13 July 2018 The play and the website share a lot in common: Everyone is very angry and sick and everyone is horny on main. Constance Grady, Vox, "You can rent a room above this bookstore by the sea and run the shop," 30 June 2018 The two have a lot in common: While Christina is the costar of HGTV's Flip or Flop, her British beau has reality TV experience, too, on Channel 4's For the Love of Cars, BBC Two's Building Cars Live, and Velocity's Wheeler Dealers. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Christina El Moussa's Boyfriend Ant Anstead Just Shut Down a Hater Who Said He Looks Better With His Ex," 29 June 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

8 Nov 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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Comments on common

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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