Definitions

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

  • n. The common people as opposed to the upper classes. Also called commonality.
  • n. An incorporated body; a corporation.
  • n. An entire group: the commonalty of laypeople.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The common people; the commonality
  • n. A group of things having similar characteristics
  • n. A class composed of persons lacking clerical or noble rank

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The common people; those classes and conditions of people who are below the rank of nobility; the commons.
  • n. The majority or bulk of mankind.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The public; the people; the multitude.
  • n. Commonwealth; republic.
  • n. Specifically, the common people.
  • n. In republican countries, the mass of the inhabitants, as distinguished from those in authority.
  • n. In a more restricted sense, the uneducated and uncultured, as distinguished from the learned and intelligent.
  • n. In a city, the mass of citizens, as represented by or acting through the corporate authorities: as, the mayor, aldermen, and commonalty of the city of New York do enact as follows.
  • n. The members of an incorporated company other than its officers.

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

  • n. a class composed of persons lacking clerical or noble rank

Etymologies

Middle English communalte, from Old French comunalte, from Medieval Latin commūnālitās, from Late Latin commūnālis, of the community; see communal.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • John, 9, etc. That a man be liable to excommunication, there be many conditions requisite; as first, that he be a member of some commonalty, that is to say, of some lawful assembly, that is to say, of some Christian Church that hath power to judge of the cause for which he is to be excommunicated.

    Leviathan

  • Under the pretext of exonerating the other members from the trouble and expense of such frequent journeys, twelve persons were appointed as representatives of the commonalty, that is, the whole body of earls, barons, and tenants of the Crown; and it was enacted that whatever these twelve should determine, in conjunction with the council of state, should be considered as the act of the whole body.

    The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 06 (From Barbarossa to Dante)

  • It is based on the old French element of the fur trade -- that is, a commonalty who are the descendants of French or Canadian boatmen, and clerks and interpreters who have invariably married Indian women.

    Memoirs of 30 Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers

  • They would have it thought that the commonalty was against him, and therefore laboured to get him cried down by a multitude, and it is no hard matter to pack a mob; whereas, if a fair poll had been granted, I doubt not but it would have been carried by a great majority for the releasing of him.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume V (Matthew to John)

  • That a man be liable to excommunication, there be many conditions requisite; as first, that he be a member of some commonalty, that is to say, of some lawful assembly, that is to say, of some Christian Church that hath power to judge of the cause for which he is to be excommunicated.

    Leviathan, or, The matter, forme, & power of a common-wealth ecclesiasticall and civill

  • I don't want to affect our "commonalty" if I may venture to call it, but I venture to say that is another reason why India should take its place in the Commonwealth.

    The India of Tomorrow

  • The commonalty differs from the people as a species from its genus; for 'the people' includes the whole aggregate of citizens, among them patricians and senators, while the term 'commonalty' embraces only such citizens as are not patricians or senators.

    The Institutes of Justinian

  • Among the commonalty, their claim for preference in Municipal, State and Federal employment is first; nor are they forgotten, though for a time the Nation pledges its gratitude to those brave defenders of its flag in the Hispano-American War.

    The Principles of the Republican Party: A Rare Unpublished Jack London Essay

  • The message for me was the commonalty of humankind, with the arts transcending global suffering for the evening.

    Jim Luce: Indian Legend Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Sons Perform in NYC

  • While they were getting the lances and ponies, and a frantic Sonsee-array was shrilly damning Daddy's eyes for permitting this criminal folly, and he was growling that she'd brought it on herself, and the commonalty were settling down to enjoy the show, I turned to the Yawner and asked him quietly if he could find me three wooden pegs, about so by so.

    Isabelle

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