com·​mon | \ ˈkä-mən How to pronounce common (audio) \

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
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
in common
: shared together has a lot in common with his neighbors

Other Words from common


commonly adverb
commonness \ ˈkä-​mən-​nəs How to pronounce common (audio) \ 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

Examples of common in a Sentence

Adjective 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 Noun The campus has several dining commons. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The island hosted a calling chuck-will’s-widow near Sesachacha Pond, a black-necked stilt at the Milestone Cranberry Bog, four common ravens between Sconset and Polpis, and two harlequin ducks at Siasconset., 21 May 2022 Credit history was the most common reason given to Black applicants for being denied. Gabe Cohen, CNN, 21 May 2022 Doing nothing at all or freezing — which is a common response to trauma — can be seen as consenting. Lisa Phu, Anchorage Daily News, 21 May 2022 The expense is part of the reason NFTs have become a common tool for storing data-rich files such as images and videos. Shen Lu And Karen Hao, WSJ, 21 May 2022 This crowding can impede circulation and encourage powdery mildew, a common problem with older varieties of lilac. Beth Botts, Chicago Tribune, 21 May 2022 According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, anxiety is the most common mental condition in the United States, affecting over 40 million adults nationwide. Leah Campano, Seventeen, 18 May 2022 Generally, croup is a common upper-respiratory tract condition in which significant inflammation and swelling develop in the larynx and trachea, imperiling breathing. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 16 May 2022 Dandruff is a common condition that men are more likely to face than women, and this shampoo is specifically formulated to target the cause of dandruff, deeply cleanse, and put a stop to the problem once and for all. The Salt Lake Tribune, 11 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The war in Vietnam had increasingly divided Lexington—thousands of residents had turned out in 1969 to rally on the common for a moratorium in the fighting. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, 1 May 2022 In 2020, the display was scaled down significantly — with just 1,000 flags lining the common., 24 May 2021 For all their differences, every ACAAN has one feature in common: At some point, the magician touches the cards. New York Times, 23 May 2021 Even politicians who have little in common seemed to unite in their misgivings about the league. Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2021 These short stories share a common through line of death and darkness, and they’re written from the supposition that day-to-day life isn’t mundane, but aggressively (and hilariously) cruel. Brian Boone, Vulture, 7 Apr. 2021 Overuse of national parks is often cited as an example of the tragedy of the commons, an economic theory that describes how people sometimes use natural resources to their advantage without considering the good of society as a whole. National Geographic, 24 Mar. 2020 Our world and our societies expect certain things-- free passageway in the commons, free trade, etcetera, etcetera. CBS News, 18 Mar. 2020 Those measures include: Deployed additional hand-sanitizing stations at all food and beverage locations, Armstrong Student Center, dining commons, Starbucks, The Marcum hotel, all markets, Brick & Ivy, 1809 and the Campus Services Center. Madeline Mitchell,, 29 Jan. 2020 See More

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.

First Known Use of common


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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

History and Etymology for common

Adjective and Noun

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

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Time Traveler for common

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Common.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for common


com·​mon | \ ˈkä-mən How to pronounce common (audio) \

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

Choose the Right Synonym for common


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.


com·​mon | \ ˈkäm-ən How to pronounce common (audio) \

Medical Definition of common

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



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

More from Merriam-Webster on common

Nglish: Translation of common for Spanish Speakers

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


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