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common cause

Any interest, goal, or other motivating factor that is shared between two or more people, groups, or organizations. The two political parties, typically so divided on social issues, were united in the common cause of eliminating homelessness.
See also: cause, common

common decency

Common, everyday courtesy, respect, and politeness that is expected and assumed by social convention. Please have the common decency to at least consult me before you make some extravagant purchase. It is just common decency that you should help someone if they are in distress.
See also: common, decency

common knowledge

Something that is (or is believed to be) generally or widely accepted as true, whether or not it has been verified or officially recognized. It's common knowledge that corporate interests play a major role in directing politicians and the laws they create. A healthy diet and regular exercise are the best defense against disease—common knowledge at this point.
See also: common, knowledge

common law

Law that is not written or defined in legislative statutes but rather is based on the precedential decisions of judges in courts or other tribunals. It is common law that those who enter into a written agreement must adhere to the terms contained therein.
See also: common, law

common name

The name of a species of organisms based on normal, everyday language, as opposed to the Latinized scientific (taxonomic) name. A single common name is often attributed to what are in fact multiple, distinct species of animals.
See also: common, name

common or garden variety

A standard, unexceptional, or commonly found kind (of thing). Primarily heard in UK. That's just your common or garden variety house spider; there's no need to be concerned about its bite.
See also: common, garden, variety

common or garden

(used before a noun; sometimes hyphenated) Standard, unexceptional, or commonly found. Primarily heard in UK. That's just your common or garden house spider; there's no need to be concerned about its bite. I'm just looking for a common-or-garden mobile phone; I don't need anything fancy.
See also: common, garden

the common weal

The common good of public society; the welfare of the general public. Having ousted the dictator from power, the new president has pledged to focus all his energy on the common weal.
See also: common, weal

*common as an old shoe

 and *common as dirt
low class; uncouth. (*Also: as ~.) That ill-mannered girl is just as common as an old shoe. Despite Mamie's efforts to appear to be upper class, most folks considered her common as dirt.
See also: common, old, shoe

common thread (to all this)

Fig. a similar idea or pattern to a series of events. All of these incidents are related. There is a common thread to all this.
See also: common, thread

have something in common (with someone or something)

[for groups of people or things] to resemble one another in specific ways. Bill and Bob both have red hair. They have that in common with each other. Bob and Mary have a lot in common. I can see why they like each other.
See also: common, have

in the Common Era

 and in the C.E.
[of dates] a year after the year 1 according to the Western calendar. (Offered as a replacement for Anno Domini and A.D.) The comet was last seen in the year 1986 in the Common Era. The Huns invaded Gaul in 451 C.E.
See also: common

ounce of common sense is worth a pound of theory

Prov. Common sense will help you solve problems more than theory will. The psychologist had many elaborate theories about how to raise her child, but often forgot that an ounce of common sense is worth a pound of theory.

make common cause

(slightly formal)
to work together to achieve something A number of groups have made common cause with local people to stop the highway from being built. The two countries have begun to make common cause against shared enemies.
Related vocabulary: have something in common (with somebody/something)
See also: cause, common, make

have something in common (with somebody/something)

to share interests or characteristics What these very old objects have in common is that they were all stolen and smuggled out of the country. What does the new model have in common with earlier versions?
Usage notes: also used in the forms have nothing in common and have a lot in common: The two women had absolutely nothing in common. The two men had a lot in common and got along well.
See also: common, have

as common as muck

  (British & Australian informal)
an impolite way of describing someone who is from a low social class You can tell from the way she talks she's as common as muck.
See also: common, muck

common ground

shared opinions between two people or groups of people who disagree about most other subjects It seems increasingly unlikely that the two sides will find any common ground.
See also: common, ground

make common cause with somebody

if one group of people makes common cause with another group, they work together in order to achieve something that both groups want Environment protesters have made common cause with local people to stop the motorway from being built.
See also: cause, common, make

the common touch

the ability of a rich or important person to communicate well with and understand ordinary people It was always said of the princess that she had the common touch and that's why she was so loved by the people. He was a dedicated and brilliant leader but he lacked the common touch.
See also: common, touch


very ordinary (always before noun) I just want a common-or-garden bike - it doesn't have to have special wheels or lots of gears or anything like that.

the lowest common denominator

the large number of people in society who will accept low-quality products and entertainment The problem with so much television is that it aims at the lowest common denominator.
See also: common, low

common cause

A joint interest, as in "The common cause against the enemies of piety" (from John Dryden's poem, Religio laici, or a Layman's Faith, 1682). This term originated as to make common cause (with), meaning "to unite one's interest with another's." In the mid-1900s the name Common Cause was adopted by a liberal lobbying group.
See also: cause, common

common ground

Shared beliefs or interests, a foundation for mutual understanding. For example, The European Union is struggling to find common ground for establishing a single currency. [1920s]
See also: common, ground

common touch, the

The ability to appeal to the ordinary person's sensibilities and interests. For example, The governor is an effective state leader who also happens to have the common touch. This phrase employs common in the sense of "everyday" or "ordinary." [c. 1940]
See also: common

in common

Shared characteristics, as in One of the few things John and Mary have in common is a love of music. [Mid-1600s]
2. Held equally, in joint possession or use, as in This land is held in common by all the neighbors. [Late 1300s]
See also: common

in common

Equally with or by all.
See also: common
References in periodicals archive ?
As Commoner pointed out, the decades before the war saw revolutionary advances in basic science, especially physics and chemistry.
But the commoners felt no happiness coming to their blighted lives by these indicators, even as, to be fair, the people's economic conditions were then demonstrably far better than now.
It will also end the practice of 'severance', which has seen commoners sell their rights to graziers living miles from the common.
Dioxin doesn't target Nunavut, emphasizes Mark Cohen, the model's developer and an atmospheric scientist who used to work with Commoner.
Prince Bertil was soon placed in succession for the throne and his marrying of a commoner would ruin the Bernadotte dynasty.
Plus she's a commoner and I can't be doing with them, innit.
Malik needs not telling how has the Baloch commoner been oppressed, nor he needs knowing what accordingly has he to do.
Members of hereditary military households frequently lived interspersed among commoner populations and engaged in occupations that were often indistinguishable from those of civilian households.
Stepping regally up to the oche will be Princess Diana, the self-styled Queen of Darts, and her commoner than ever sister-in-law Fergie.
Barker shows how in his quest for uniformity Mulcaster insisted on public education for gentleman and commoner alike, as even his disquisition on sports carried an implicit argument for uniformity in public schooling.
Andy Law,CCW's Montgomeryshire team leader, said: ``These butterflies were once much commoner throughout Wales,but they have declined by at least 90pc in the last 50 years because of changes in the countryside.
More importantly this historical act increases our understanding of the commoner view of the Meiji Restoration, the local history of the Ina Valley in central Honshu, the life of the wealthy farmer (gono), the domestic activities of farm women, the significance of genealogy and the identification of kin relationships, and the religious ideology of Hirata Atsutane's nativism.
FURTHER to your article on the ``Royal Couple'' visiting North Wales, may I point out the person coming with HRH Prince Charles is a commoner and not a Royal.
For a commoner to own one of these stones is extremely rare.
Bartlett traces these ubiquitous liberties in their more concrete forms: exemptions from seigneurial justice, exactions, and customs; and finds in them that contractual, commercial mentality that elite and commoner now shared.