Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old French
Origin: commun, from Latin communis


1 adjective
com‧mon1 S1 W1

happening often

happening often and to many people or in many places [≠ rare]:
Heart disease is one of the commonest causes of death.
common among
Bad dreams are fairly common among children.
it's common for somebody to do something
It's common for new fathers to feel jealous of the baby.
! Do not say 'It is common that...': It is common for children to be afraid (NOT It is common that children are afraid) of the dark.

a lot

existing in large numbers [≠ rare]:
Daisies are very common flowers.


[usually before noun, no comparative] common aims, beliefs, ideas etc are shared by several people or groups:
people working towards a common goal
countries that share a common language
common to
a theme that is common to all her novels

common ground

facts, features, or beliefs that are shared by people or things that are very different
common ground between
There is a great deal of common ground between management and trade unions on this issue.

shared by everyone

[ no comparative] belonging to or shared by everyone in a society
common to
These problems are common to all societies.
Joe was chosen as captain by common consent (=with everyone's agreement).

common knowledge

something everyone knows:
It is common knowledge that travel broadens the mind.

the common good

the advantage of everyone:
They work together for the common good.

common practice

a usual or accepted way of doing things:
It was common practice for families to attend church together.


[only before noun, no comparative] ordinary and not special in any way:
common salt
The twentieth century was called the century of the common man (=ordinary people).
He insists that he is a revolutionary not a common criminal.

common courtesy/decency/politeness

a polite way of behaving that you expect from people:
It would be common courtesy to return their hospitality.

common or garden

British English ordinary [= garden-variety American English]
a common or garden dispute

make/find common cause (with/against somebody)

formal to join with other people or groups in order to achieve something:
France and Russia made common cause against Britain.

common touch

the ability of someone in a position of power or authority to talk to and understand ordinary people - used to show approval:
He's made it to the top without losing the common touch.

social class

British English old-fashioned an offensive word used for describing someone from a low social class

Dictionary results for "common"
Dictionary pictures of the day
Do you know what each of these is called?
What is the word for picture 1? What is the word for picture 2? What is the word for picture 3? What is the word for picture 4?
Click on any of the pictures above to find out what it is called.