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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

as common as muck

Low-class. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Considering she's wearing an outfit like that in public, she must be as common as muck.
See also: common, muck

(as) common as an old shoe

Lacking in manners or refinement. I can't believe he just put his elbows on the dinner table—why, he must be as common as an old shoe!
See also: common, old, shoe

the common cold

Another name for a "cold"—an ordinary, mild illness characterized by congestion, sneezing, and coughing. The doctor said that I just have the common cold, not anything serious, thank goodness. If you have the common cold, you should be resting!
See also: cold, common

common ground

Collectively, shared ideas, interests, or beliefs, especially between people who often disagree. I was worried when my boyfriend and uncle started arguing over their different political views, but luckily they found common ground when discussing their favorite TV shows.
See also: common, ground

common salt

Another name for the type of salt that is typically used to flavor food. If there's no common salt on the table, my uncle will inevitably ask for it, as he adds salt to everything he eats. Be sure to add some common salt to the roast before putting it in the oven.
See also: common, salt

common thread

An idea or theme that is consistently present in several different areas or things. What is the common thread in these three novels?
See also: common, thread

*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 classic literature ?
As all the species of the same genus are supposed, on my theory, to have descended from a common parent, it might be expected that they would occasionally vary in an analogous manner; so that a variety of one species would resemble in some of its characters another species; this other species being on my view only a well-marked and permanent variety.
Rollin asserts, that the common mule from the ass and horse is particularly apt to have bars on its legs.
For myself, I venture confidently to look back thousands on thousands of generations, and I see an animal striped like a zebra, but perhaps otherwise very differently constructed, the common parent of our domestic horse, whether or not it be descended from one or more wild stocks, of the ass, the hemionus, quagga, and zebra.
Specific characters--that is, the characters which have come to differ since the several species of the same genus branched off from a common parent--are more variable than generic characters, or those which have long been inherited, and have not differed within this same period.
Of the indigenous mammalia, the only one now left of any size, which is common, is the Cervus campestris.
The tucutucos appear, to a certain degree, to be gregarious: the man who procured the specimens for me had caught six together, and he said this was a common occurrence.
In the common mole the eye is extraordinarily small but perfect, though many anatomists doubt whether it is connected with the true optic nerve; its vision must certainly be imperfect, though probably useful to the animal when it leaves its burrow.
This close agreement in structure and habits, in representative species coming from opposite quarters of a great continent, always strikes one as interesting, though of common occurrence.
There are the brave champion, whether noble or common man, who conquers or falls against overwhelming odds; the faithful lover of either sex; the woman whose constancy, proving stronger than man's fickleness, wins back her lover to her side at last; the traitorous old woman (victim of the blind and cruel prejudice which after a century or two was often to send her to the stake as a witch); the loyal little child; and some few others.
Besides the refrains which are perhaps a relic of communal composition and the conventional epithets which the ballads share with epic poetry there are numerous traditional ballad expressions--rather meaningless formulas and line-tags used only to complete the rime or meter, the common useful scrap-bag reserve of these unpretentious poets.
And they will have a common interest in the same thing which they will alike call `my own,' and having this common interest they will have a common feeling of pleasure and pain?
Both the community of property and the community of families, as I am saying, tend to make them more truly guardians; they will not tear the city in pieces by differing about `mine' and `not mine;' each man dragging any acquisition which he has made into a separate house of his own, where he has a separate wife and children and private pleasures and pains; but all will be affected as far as may be by the same pleasures and pains because they are all of one opinion about what is near and dear to them, and therefore they all tend towards a common end.
You agree then, I said, that men and women are to have a common way of life such as we have described--common education, common children; and they are to watch over the citizens in common whether abiding in the city or going out to war; they are to keep watch together, and to hunt together like dogs; and always and in all things, as far as they are able, women are to share with the men?
And will they not be lovers of Hellas, and think of Hellas as their own land, and share in the common temples?
Their donation in 1993 of $1,000,000 launched the Commons organizational efforts, funded the research and publication of the Draft 2 Plan, initiated the Commons affordable housing fund, and leveraged Paul Allen's $20 million land-purchasing loan.