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

Amazon Prime Day has a lot in common with Black Friday: The main course — incredible deals on a wide range of products — is accompanied by a less desirable side serving of stress. Madeline Buxton,, "5 Survival Tips You Need To Know Before Shopping On Amazon Prime Day," 13 July 2018 Now those dogs are all but gone, and few modern dogs have much DNA in common with the ancient ones from America. Josh Magness, miamiherald, "Europeans arrived — and America's native dogs disappeared. They left something behind," 6 July 2018 As well as inspiring artists, Moss has something else in common with the Muses of Ancient Greece. Waldemar Januszczak, A-LIST, "Kate Moss: The Golden Girl," 1 July 2018 In other words, scientists need to broaden the scope of the search to account for the possibility that extraterrestrial life may have nothing in common with life on Earth. Hanneke Weitering, Scientific American, "How Theoretical Physicists Can Help Find Aliens," 28 June 2018 In the same way, the books sidestep the true face of misogyny: if men who hate women are normal and common, then misogynist violence does not have to be so diabolical. Alice Bolin, Longreads, "The Daughter as Detective," 26 June 2018 Joint investigations and syndication deals have become common. The Economist, "Latin America’s new media are growing up," 14 July 2018 Apparently, black people have more in common with the cops that patrol their neighborhoods than anyone realized. Ben Joravsky, Chicago Reader, "News / Politics / Poverty / Race Father Pfleger, top cop Johnson, and a tinge of hope for the city’s future," 13 July 2018 Like Sonia and other veterans, Kelly is familiar with aspects of the world that the general public rarely experiences, something the military has in common with agriculture. Tracy Saelinger, Woman's Day, "Gardening Led This Veteran to a New Life of Hope and Healing," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 From the Ramones and the Talking Heads to the Pretenders and Madonna -- with Depeche Mode, the Cult and Echo & The Bunnymen thrown in for good measure -- each artist has at least one thing in common: Stein signed them to his Sire Records. Ed Christman, Billboard, "Seymour Stein On His New Autobiography & Why the Music Industry Should Pay More Tribute to Its Past," 13 June 2018 What both these maneuvers have in common is Trump’s discovery of powers available to him under the Constitution that enable him to make change without any approval from other branches of government. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Is Probing the Constitution for Weaknesses, and Finding Them," 1 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

13 Sep 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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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