from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Belonging equally to or shared equally by two or more; joint.
  • adjective Of or relating to the community as a whole; public.
  • adjective Widespread; prevalent.
  • adjective Occurring frequently or habitually; usual.
  • adjective Most widely known; ordinary.
  • adjective Having no special designation, status, or rank.
  • adjective Not distinguished by superior or noteworthy characteristics; average.
  • adjective Of no special quality; standard.
  • adjective Of mediocre or inferior quality; second-rate.
  • adjective Unrefined or coarse in manner; vulgar.
  • adjective Either masculine or feminine in gender.
  • adjective Representing one or all of the members of a class; not designating a unique entity.
  • noun The common people; commonalty.
  • noun The social class composed of commoners.
  • noun The parliamentary representatives of this class.
  • noun The House of Commons.
  • noun A tract of land, usually in a centrally located spot, belonging to or used by a community as a whole.
  • noun The legal right of a person to use the lands or waters of another, as for fishing.
  • noun A building or hall for dining, typically at a university or college.
  • noun Common stock.
  • noun Ecclesiastical A service used for a particular class of festivals.
  • idiom (in common) Equally with or by all.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of or pertaining to all—that is, to all the human race, or to all in a given country, region, or locality; being a general possession or right: of a public nature or character.
  • Pertaining equally to, or proceeding equally from, two or more; joint: as, life and sense are common to man and beast; it was done by common consent of the parties.
  • Of frequent or usual occurrence; not exceptional; usual; habitual.
  • Not distinguished from the majority of others; of persons, belonging to the general mass; not notable for rank, ability, etc.; of things, not of superior excellence; ordinary: as, a common soldier; the common people; common food or clothing.
  • Of the common people.
  • Trite; hackneyed; commonplace; low; inferior; vulgar; coarse.
  • At the disposal of all; prostitute.
  • Not sacred or sanctified; ceremonially unclean.
  • In grammar: Both masculine and feminine; optionally masculine or feminine: said of a word, in a language generally distinguishing masculine and feminine, which is capable of use as either.
  • Used indifferently to designate any individual of a class; appellative; not proper: as, a common noun: opposed to proper (which see).
  • In prosody, either long or short; of doubtful or variable quantity: as, a common vowel; a common syllable.
  • In anatomy: Not peculiar or particular; not specialized or differentiated: as, the common integument of the body.
  • Forming or formed by other more particular parts: as, the common carotid or common iliac artery, as distinguished from the internal and external arteries of the same name; the common trunk of a nerve, as distinguished from its branches; the common origin of the coracobrachialis muscle and of the short head of the biceps muscle—that is, the origin which they have in common.
  • In entomology, continuous on two united surfaces: said of lines and marks which pass in an uninterrupted manner from the anterior to the posterior wings when both are extended, or of
  • marks or processes on the two elytra which when closed appear as one.
  • In those parts of the southern United States which were formerly a province of France, small tracts of land, usually from one to three yards in width by forty in length and fenced in, which were cultivated by the inhabitants of villages.
  • More appropriately, the parts of the former system which do not rest for their authority on any subsisting express legislative act; the unwritten law. In this sense common law consists in those principles and rules which are gathered from the reports of adjudged cases, from the opinions of text-writers and commentators, and from popular usage and custom, in contradistinction to statute law.
  • More narrowly, that part of the system just defined which was recognized and administered by the king's justices, in contradistinction to the modifications introduced by the chancellors as rules of equity in restraint or enlargement of the customary and statutory law (see equity), and, in respect of procedure, in contradistinction to the code practice.
  • In music, duple and quadruple rhythm. The usual sign (A) for these rhythms is derived from the theory of medieval musicians that duple rhythm was imperfect, and so to be indicated by a half or broken circle (B). It is not the initial of the word “common,” since originally triple rhythm was regarded as the standard or perfect rhythm. The sign A now usually signifies quadruple rhythm, four beats to the measure, while C signifies duple rhythm, two beats to the measure. Also called common time.
  • a consideration or argument applicable to a variety of cases. See place.
  • Sound practical judgment; good sense; the practical sense of the greater part of mankind, especially as unaffected by logical subtleties or imagination.
  • Equally with another or with others; all equally; for equal use or participation in by two or more: as, tenants in common; to provide for children in common; to assign lands to two or more persons in common; we enjoy the bounties of Providence in common.
  • In public.


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

[Middle English commune, from Old French commun, from Latin commūnis; see mei- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English comun, from Anglo-Norman comun, from Old French comun (rare in Gallo-Romance. Reinforced as a Carolingian calque of Frankish gemeini, gamaini "common" in Old French) from Latin commūnis ("common, public, general"), from Proto-Indo-European *ko-moin-i (“held in common”). Displaced native Middle English ȝemǣne, imene ("common, general, universal") (from Old English ġemǣne ("common, universal")), Middle English mǣne, mene ("mean, common") (also from Old English ġemǣne ("common, universal")), Middle English samen, somen ("in common, together") (from Old English samen ("together")).


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  • Wordies prefer common (10 listings) over uncommon (1 listing).

    October 20, 2008

  • Why do you say that? I typically just look for more than one listing, because most of the one listing words aren't really words.

    October 20, 2008

  • I have observed that common is more common than uncommon; the 'why' does not enter my consideration.

    October 20, 2008