Etymology: Middle English commun, from Anglo-French, from Latin communis — more at mean
Date: 13th century
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> 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> c. just satisfying accustomed criteria ; elementary <common decency> 5. a. falling below ordinary standards ; second-rate b. lacking refinement ; coarse 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 noun Synonyms: 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>. II. noun Date: 14th century 1. plural the common people 2. plural but singular in construction a dining hall 3. plural but singular or plural in construction, often capitalized a. the political group or estate comprising the commoners b. the parliamentary representatives of the commoners c. House of Commons 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: as a. undivided land used especially for pasture b. a public open area in a municipality 6. a. a religious service suitable for any of various festivals b. ordinary 2 7. common stock
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.