Definition of mutual in US English:



  • 1(of a feeling or action) experienced or done by each of two or more parties toward the other or others.

    ‘a partnership based on mutual respect and understanding’
    ‘my father hated him from the start and the feeling was mutual’
    • ‘And, here, far away from the partisan capital, the warm feelings are mutual.’
    • ‘In our time of separation, I believe there grew a mutual love & respect which had been missing before.’
    • ‘But this has not affected the mutual love and respect he and his children feel for one another.’
    • ‘Sorry to tell you this, Meg, but I'm sure the feeling was mutual.’
    • ‘‘We met around town in Detroit and just had a mutual admiration and respect, then just sort of gravitated toward one another,’ says Benson.’
    • ‘She hugged me and told me she missed me - the feeling was certainly mutual.’
    • ‘Slowly but surely, each earns the respect of the other, and out of that respect grows a mutual appreciation, trust, and inevitably, familial love.’
    • ‘What makes a family is not necessarily the proper gender variety in the household but the committed mutual love and respect of individuals.’
    • ‘If you worked hard he appreciated you and that feeling was mutual between us.’
    • ‘If the feeling is mutual, the system will alert both parties.’
    • ‘It had just been Joy and Mark - two people united by mutual feelings of respect and, as much as Joy hated to admit it, love.’
    • ‘The length of time spent together and their mutual love and respect has meant that the three boys regarded themselves as brothers.’
    • ‘Where hostility and mutual contempt have replaced love and respect, it is in no one's best interests to prolong the agony.’
    • ‘As a director, he carefully chooses those that work with him, and seeks an atmosphere of mutual loyalty and respect.’
    • ‘A family is not a business; it is a home that should be run out of mutual love and respect.’
    • ‘Many of them despise him, and the feeling is mutual.’
    • ‘She took an instant dislike to Mary and the feeling was largely mutual.’
    • ‘Dara seemed to have mutual feelings toward it since she whipped out her newly charged cell phone and began punching in numbers.’
    • ‘The fans love him and the feeling is mutual.’
    • ‘But it seems the feeling was mutual, so that's fine.’
    reciprocal, reciprocated, requited, returned, give-and-take, interchangeable, interactive, complementary, correlative
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    1. 1.1 (of two or more people) having the same specified relationship to each other.
      ‘they were mutual beneficiaries of the settlement’
      • ‘They were mutual admirers of each other's work and had wanted to record together for some time.’
      reciprocal, reciprocated, requited, returned, give-and-take, interchangeable, interactive, complementary, correlative
      View synonyms
  • 2Held in common by two or more parties.

    ‘we were introduced by a mutual friend’
    • ‘Dave and Killian met at a mutual friend's birthday party.’
    • ‘Lately, the situation has worsened, as a mutual friend has returned to town.’
    • ‘He waived the hourly fee after discovering a mutual common interest in the gym.’
    • ‘Men preferred friends with mutual acquaintances and common interests, while women valued laughter, honesty and trust.’
    • ‘But we had mutual friends in common, and the most significant one was this chap, James Coldhurst.’
    • ‘They had met at a mutual friend's party a while ago.’
    • ‘I know that they were introduced by mutual friends.’
    • ‘Discussions included topics of mutual and continuing interest common to both countries.’
    • ‘The ties between the United States and Japan are friendly and close because we share common values, mutual interests and joint faith in democracy.’
    • ‘I saw the now 7-year-old Brandon for the first time in a while at a mutual friend's Christmas party.’
    • ‘The authors acknowledge the need for such projects to be based on mutual goals that address common problems of the local institution.’
    • ‘But one of our mutual friends had returned from a vacation and he had specially requested my participation.’
    • ‘Girls with more than one mutual friend completed the questionnaire on the most stable or highest ranked friend.’
    • ‘At any rate, it turned out that he and I had some mutual friends who were throwing a Halloween party.’
    • ‘They met at a mutual friend's party almost six years ago.’
    • ‘‘I met Andy Coe (bass player) at a party thrown by a mutual friend,’ said Pete.’
    • ‘Christian social thinkers have stated that solidarity involves mutual interests, common approaches and an altruistic sense of duty and compassion.’
    • ‘As an illustration of the difference between common and mutual knowledge suppose that you and I are each dealt a card.’
    • ‘We met two months ago, at the birthday party of a mutual friend.’
    • ‘It goes beyond the age, gender, location formula to match individuals based on mutual friends and similar interests.’
    1. 2.1 Denoting an insurance company or other corporate organization owned by its members and dividing some or all of its profits between them.
      ‘the world's oldest mutual insurance company’
      • ‘The former mutual building society has seen its shares rise by 42 per cent since this time last year.’
      • ‘Now his finance days are behind him as he leads one of Scotland's remaining mutual building societies.’
      • ‘Furthermore, several building societies and mutual life assurance companies have converted to listed companies over the past fifteen years, providing windfall shares to their members.’
      • ‘The company has already dismissed two earlier challenges to its mutual status, from a Monaco-based fund manager in 2000 and a retired lecturer, David Stonebanks, last year.’
      • ‘Members of mutual companies that have gone public in recent times have in some cases reaped significant financial benefits.’
      • ‘This mutual building society offers a very limited unit trust range on the grounds that its members generally need little else.’
      • ‘New legislation that will allow the company to demutualise (change its status from a mutual society that is owned by its members) is expected to be passed by year-end.’
      • ‘They are mutual societies owned and controlled by their members, who must share a common bond.’
      • ‘When every mutual and pension fund in the land owns a chunk of a particular stock, it may have nowhere to go but down.’
      • ‘In previous years, building societies and mutual companies (those without shareholders) usually dominated these annual surveys of the cheapest lenders.’
      • ‘Beyond these two, there are still a number of smaller mutual building societies, but it is unlikely they will demutualise.’
      • ‘Many building societies have thrown off their mutual status, offering their members shares or a lump sum bonus in return.’
      • ‘Trust chiefs say the proposals would see the trust being owned and run by local members, comparing the move with the way mutual building societies are run.’
      • ‘In addition, it is a mutual company and profits, if realised from its other businesses, are paid into the with-profits fund.’
      • ‘Members of the local community would ‘own’ the hospitals in the same way as mutual building societies are run.’
      • ‘First, there are the building societies that have converted from mutual associations to public limited companies and have become banks.’
      • ‘Deep in Glasgow's business district, nearly all the grand former building societies, mutual associations and insurance offices have been transformed into eateries and drinkeries.’
      • ‘Mr Goodfellow re-emphasised the Skipton's commitment to remaining a mutual building society.’
      • ‘The plan would see the trust being owned and run by local members, in a similar way to mutual building societies.’
      • ‘In an effort to remain mutual, many building societies forced new account owners to waive their rights to any forthcoming windfall shares.’


Some traditionalists consider using mutual to mean ‘common to two or more people’ (a mutual friend; a mutual interest) to be incorrect, holding that a sense of reciprocity is necessary (mutual respect; mutual need). The use they object to has a long and respectable history, however, being first recorded in Shakespeare and appearing in the writing of Sir Walter Scott, George Eliot, and, most famously, as the title of Dickens's novel Our Mutual Friend. It is now generally accepted as part of standard English


Late 15th century: from Old French mutuel, from Latin mutuus ‘mutual, borrowed’; related to mutare ‘to change’.