1

common

play
adjective com·mon \ ˈkä-mən \

Definition of common

1 a :of or relating to a community at large :public
  • work for the common good
b :known to the community
  • common nuisances
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
  • 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
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 a :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
5 a :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

commonly

adverb

commonness

play \ˈkä-mən-nəs\ noun

Examples of common in a Sentence

  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 and Etymology of common

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

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

2

common

noun

Definition of common

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.
6 a :a religious service suitable for any of various festivals
b :ordinary 2
in common
:shared together
  • has a lot in common with his neighbors

Examples of common in a Sentence

  1. The campus has several dining commons.

Recent Examples of common from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of common


COMMON Defined for English Language Learners

common

play
adjective

Definition of common for English Language Learners

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

  • : done by many people

  • : occurring or appearing frequently : not rare


common

noun

Definition of common for English Language Learners

  • : 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.


COMMON Defined for Kids

1

common

play
adjective com·mon \ ˈkä-mən \

Definition of common for Students

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 :1general 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.

Synonym Discussion of 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.

2

common

noun

Definition of common for Students

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

Medical Dictionary

common

play
adjective com·mon \ ˈkäm-ən \

medical Definition of common

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

Law Dictionary

1

common

adjective com·mon

legal Definition of common

1 a :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

2

common

noun

legal Definition of common

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 1
5 :common stock at stock


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