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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

  (formal)
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

common-or-garden

  (British)
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 ?
Although not commonly looked for clinically, cardiac involvement in HIV-positive patients is a reality, with pericardial effusion being the commonest mode of presentation in our environment.
They identified "obesity" as the commonest factor for the hypertension.
Microsporidiosis is relatively uncommon in urban South Africa, where cryptosporidiosis most commonly causes chronic diarrhoea, but was the commonest cause of diarrhoea in HIV-infected patients in Zimbabwe.
Organophosphates were the commonest agents used in the 209 parasuicides involving a single agent (33% of referrals) (Table III).
The commonest cause for admission in these patients was an acute exacerbation of acid peptic disease (Table II).
The commonest date is April 19 though the full cycle of Easter dates will repeat only after 5,700,000 years.
Bio is the commonest term for organic in European languages but has different connotations in England," he added.
6 protects PDF documents with enhanced technical controls that resist all current PC based screen grabbers, stopping one of the commonest methods of IPR theft in its tracks.
And each of these fluids has a little of the commonest of salts, sodium chloride.
Lung cancer remains the commonest cancer death in the US, with around 174,470 new cases and 162,460 deaths expected this year.
This is perhaps the easiest, commonest, most obvious technique to fall back upon.
Professor David Woods, lead author of the guidelines, said: "With professional lifestyle intervention and appro- priate use of proven drug treatments, it is now possible to have a major impact on the commonest cause of death in the country.
It invariably led to conflict, the commonest cause of which was 'deep-festering grievances from unmet needs'.
Elephant Prince does not recount the commonest version of Ganesh's origin, in which Parvati creates a child from earth and her husband Shiva is so surprised by the stranger he cuts the boy's head off; instead, Elephant Prince draws upon a classic Indian text entitled "Brahma Vaivarta Purana" to present a version in which Parvati wishes for a child and to her delight has her wish granted, yet tragedy strikes when the god Shani (Saturn) accidentally destroys the child's head, for whatever powerful Shani gazes upon is instantly obliterated.
The Donald (a name coined by his first ex-wife, who didn't trademark it) hopes to convince the folks who dole out the little TMs that this commonest of phrases is so quintessentially him that he should own it.