Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Having no remarkable features, characteristics, or traits; ordinary.
  • n. A trite or obvious remark; a platitude: "the solidified commonplaces of established wisdom” ( John Simon). See Synonyms at cliché.
  • n. Something that is ordinary or common.
  • n. Archaic A passage marked for reference or entered in a commonplace book.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. ordinary; having no remarkable features
  • n. A platitude or cliché.
  • n. Something that is ordinary.
  • v. To make a commonplace book.
  • v. To utter commonplaces; to indulge in platitudes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Common; ordinary; trite.
  • n. An idea or expression wanting originality or interest; a trite or customary remark; a platitude.
  • n. A memorandum; something to be frequently consulted or referred to.
  • intransitive v. To utter commonplaces; to indulge in platitudes.
  • transitive v. To enter in a commonplace book, or to reduce to general heads.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A memorandum of something that is likely to be again referred to; a fact or quotation or argument that is or may be made useful in one or another way or in a variety of ways, and so is made note of for handy use.
  • n. A well-known, customary, or obvious remark; a trite or uninteresting saying.
  • n. Anything occurring frequently or habitually; anything of ordinary or usual character; especially, anything that is so common as to be uninteresting; such common things collectively.
  • Not novel or striking; trite; hackneyed: as, a commonplace remark.
  • Ordinary; common; uninteresting; without originality or marked individuality: as, a commonplace person.
  • To enter particulars regarding in a commonplace-book.
  • To indulge in commonplace statements.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a trite or obvious remark
  • adj. repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse
  • adj. not challenging; dull and lacking excitement
  • adj. completely ordinary and unremarkable

Etymologies

Translation of Latin locus commūnis, generally applicable literary passage, translation of Greek koinos topos.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
A calque of Latin locus commūnis, referring to a generally applicable literary passage, itself is a calque of Ancient Greek κοινός τόπος (koinos topos). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I cannot fancy the man who saw this effect, and took it on the wing with so much force and spirit, was what you call commonplace in the last recesses of the heart.

    Virginibus Puerisque and other papers

  • In the hush of a beautiful Sunday morning the new missionary begins what she calls the commonplace work of the day.

    Mary Slessor of Calabar: Pioneer Missionary

  • Anyhow, it's more than a little depressing how commonplace is Brewer's apparent assumption: that politics have little or nothing to do with morals and values.

    Television

  • Oh, and I forgot refrigeration, which we in aust developed as far back as the 1850's to allow for our meat and dairy to be exporte back to Britain; yes, you heard correctly; the 1850's!! icechests were commonplace from the 1890's out here and Federation + pre-Federation designed for the heat; double brick, high ceilings, wrap-around verandahs, coolgardie meatsafe etc.

    Alfred Augustus Glendening 1861-1903

  • For example, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) 2008 National School Climate Survey reveals that anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment remain commonplace in America's schools.

    Irene Monroe: When will the homophobic bullying cease?

  • We think the key to making this stuff more commonplace is keeping it affordable for everyone.

    AfterGlow Chair – Luminous Chair Made from Recycled Milk Jugs

  • One of the fields where researchers believe wireless sensor technology could be commonplace is in the health care setting.

    Wireless Sensors Extend Internet’s Reach | Impact Lab

  • Yet if “the commonplace is sometimes hardest to see,” Cording evokes it with exceptional skill and mastery of form (which includes an occasional rhyme).

    2007 April 05 « One-Minute Book Reviews

  • [Page 266] an uninterrupted amusement without ever descending to the grotesque, to have been comic without being vulgar, and to have avoided extremes of every kind, without ever being dull or commonplace, is the praise of which Jane Austen is almost entitled to a monopoly.

    Jane Austen: Her Homes and Her Friends

  • I had been through two mortally dull years (without travel), in commonplace, matter-of-fact Old England, where one can't get into a difficulty.

    The Romance of Isabel, Lady Burton

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