Definition of commoner in English:



  • 1An ordinary person, without rank or title.

    • ‘Damion and I, however, were only peasants, commoners seeking a means of escape from the terrors of poverty.’
    • ‘Wildly popular in his day, he was loved by royalty and commoners alike.’
    • ‘Then if you spent a day driving up and down and all across the Twin Cities looking for the salts they use, you'd find that they're available for purchase by commoners like us.’
    • ‘They have opportunities beyond opportunities and temptation that us commoners couldn't imagine.’
    • ‘To give it a completely realistic touch, there is even the bench at the edge of the spring and pool, a vantage photographic point that Presidents and commoners alike choose, to record their visit.’
    • ‘The traditional Balinese social pattern linking rulers and citizens was strongly adhered to by the palace, and the relationship between the royals and commoners remains close and harmonious.’
    • ‘A truly democratic medium, the radio is accessible to everybody, and as a result the famous and infamous, the royalty and commoners, all tune in and talk to each other.’
    • ‘The emperors feared that extending the use of gold might enable commoners to accumulate individual wealth - and build a power base that might eventually challenge the throne.’
    • ‘The clerks, who prepared legal documents, registered deeds, and issued licences, were commoners who did not own property, hold degrees, or belong to the elite gentry families.’
    • ‘But commoners realize all too well that community structures and social relationships are vitally important in creating wealth, not to mention a humane society.’
    • ‘After all, the marriage of royalty to commoners is not an entirely new concept.’
    • ‘At the same time I was curious about these mysterious women who were socially unacceptable, yet evoking interest of the commoners for different reasons.’
    • ‘Only true nobles were taught flute, it was an upper class instrument and forbidden to commoners.’
    • ‘Many nobles viewed him as a commoner and only royal by marriage.’
    • ‘Diana, on the other hand, was a commoner (albeit an aristocrat) who worked in a common job when her engagement to Prince Charles was announced.’
    • ‘The first professional banker was only appointed in 1991 and up until 1981 only four governors had been commoners - the other 16 to that date had been aristocrats.’
    • ‘This is a very significant event because it is now not only aristocracy getting involved but also the commoners themselves.’
    • ‘Indeed, just a glance at Europe reveals that in many places not only monarchs, clergy, and nobles but also commoners had obtained land and a lifestyle to go with it.’
    • ‘During this time Louis XIV was in power and royalty lived in ridiculous comforts while French commoners starved.’
    • ‘Not that we would have, anyway - when an aristocrat orders, the commoners obey.’
    proletarian, commoner, common person, man in the street, person in the street, woman in the street, working-class person, worker, working person
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  • 2A person who has the right of common (commonage)

    • ‘What will happen to the commoners and the verderers?’
    • ‘Registered commoners have the right to keep sheep on the land and it is illegal to put up fencing.’
    • ‘We can also work with groups, such as commoners or other local groups, on joint approaches to finding new ways forward.’
    • ‘In the event of conflicting priorities, the original property rights of owners and commoners should prevail.’
    • ‘It is submitted that Mr Podger and his ancestors have had grazing rights as a statutory commoner of the 5,000 acres at the Curragh.’
    • ‘They are the responsibility of commoners with grazing rights in the Forest.’
    • ‘And it's on what we call a common, and I have common rights, and every year me and the commoners get together.’
    • ‘It's a 200 year old celebration of commoner's rights to the land, according to this article.’
    • ‘The Act of 1965 dealt with these problems by creating local registers of common land and town and village greens which recorded the rights, if any, of the commoners and the names of the owners of the land.’
  • 3(at some British universities) an undergraduate who does not have a scholarship.

    • ‘It is surely relevant that he entered Oxford as a commoner.’
    • ‘In 1596, aged 14, he was enrolled as gentleman commoner at University College, Oxford.’
    • ‘If no one wanted to give him an award, the choice went back to University College to take him as a commoner if they wished.’
    • ‘He was educated at Charterhouse School in London and was nominated by his schoolmaster for an exhibition to Christ church College, Oxford to which he was admitted as a commoner in 1720.’
    • ‘'Thank goodness I'll never have to go through [that] again', he wrote of his time at Marlborough, before entering Magdalen College as a commoner in Michaelmas term 1925.’


Middle English (denoting a citizen or burgess): from medieval Latin communarius, from communa, communia community based on Latin communis (see common).