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’
    • ‘She took an instant dislike to Mary and the feeling was largely mutual.’
    • ‘And, here, far away from the partisan capital, the warm feelings are mutual.’
    • ‘What makes a family is not necessarily the proper gender variety in the household but the committed mutual love and respect of individuals.’
    • ‘But this has not affected the mutual love and respect he and his children feel for one another.’
    • ‘‘We met around town in Detroit and just had a mutual admiration and respect, then just sort of gravitated toward one another,’ says Benson.’
    • ‘Many of them despise him, and the feeling is mutual.’
    • ‘Sorry to tell you this, Meg, but I'm sure the feeling was mutual.’
    • ‘Where hostility and mutual contempt have replaced love and respect, it is in no one's best interests to prolong the agony.’
    • ‘Dara seemed to have mutual feelings toward it since she whipped out her newly charged cell phone and began punching in numbers.’
    • ‘But it seems the feeling was mutual, so that's fine.’
    • ‘The length of time spent together and their mutual love and respect has meant that the three boys regarded themselves as brothers.’
    • ‘She hugged me and told me she missed me - the feeling was certainly mutual.’
    • ‘A family is not a business; it is a home that should be run out of mutual love and respect.’
    • ‘If you worked hard he appreciated you and that feeling was mutual between us.’
    • ‘In our time of separation, I believe there grew a mutual love & respect which had been missing before.’
    • ‘If the feeling is mutual, the system will alert both parties.’
    • ‘As a director, he carefully chooses those that work with him, and seeks an atmosphere of mutual loyalty and respect.’
    • ‘The fans love him and the feeling is 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
    • ‘The authors acknowledge the need for such projects to be based on mutual goals that address common problems of the local institution.’
    • ‘But we had mutual friends in common, and the most significant one was this chap, James Coldhurst.’
    • ‘‘I met Andy Coe (bass player) at a party thrown by a mutual friend,’ said Pete.’
    • ‘Men preferred friends with mutual acquaintances and common interests, while women valued laughter, honesty and trust.’
    • ‘He waived the hourly fee after discovering a mutual common interest in the gym.’
    • ‘But one of our mutual friends had returned from a vacation and he had specially requested my participation.’
    • ‘Lately, the situation has worsened, as a mutual friend has returned to town.’
    • ‘Christian social thinkers have stated that solidarity involves mutual interests, common approaches and an altruistic sense of duty and compassion.’
    • ‘At any rate, it turned out that he and I had some mutual friends who were throwing a Halloween party.’
    • ‘I saw the now 7-year-old Brandon for the first time in a while at a mutual friend's Christmas party.’
    • ‘We met two months ago, at the birthday party of a mutual friend.’
    • ‘I know that they were introduced by mutual friends.’
    • ‘The ties between the United States and Japan are friendly and close because we share common values, mutual interests and joint faith in democracy.’
    • ‘As an illustration of the difference between common and mutual knowledge suppose that you and I are each dealt a card.’
    • ‘Girls with more than one mutual friend completed the questionnaire on the most stable or highest ranked friend.’
    • ‘They met at a mutual friend's party almost six years ago.’
    • ‘It goes beyond the age, gender, location formula to match individuals based on mutual friends and similar interests.’
    • ‘They had met at a mutual friend's party a while ago.’
    • ‘Dave and Killian met at a mutual friend's birthday party.’
    • ‘Discussions included topics of mutual and continuing interest common to both countries.’
    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’
      • ‘Mr Goodfellow re-emphasised the Skipton's commitment to remaining a mutual building society.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They are mutual societies owned and controlled by their members, who must share a common bond.’
      • ‘Many building societies have thrown off their mutual status, offering their members shares or a lump sum bonus in return.’
      • ‘Now his finance days are behind him as he leads one of Scotland's remaining mutual building societies.’
      • ‘The former mutual building society has seen its shares rise by 42 per cent since this time last year.’
      • ‘First, there are the building societies that have converted from mutual associations to public limited companies and have become banks.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When every mutual and pension fund in the land owns a chunk of a particular stock, it may have nowhere to go but down.’
      • ‘Members of mutual companies that have gone public in recent times have in some cases reaped significant financial benefits.’
      • ‘In previous years, building societies and mutual companies (those without shareholders) usually dominated these annual surveys of the cheapest lenders.’
      • ‘This mutual building society offers a very limited unit trust range on the grounds that its members generally need little else.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The plan would see the trust being owned and run by local members, in a similar way to mutual building societies.’
      • ‘Members of the local community would ‘own’ the hospitals in the same way as mutual building societies are run.’
      • ‘Beyond these two, there are still a number of smaller mutual building societies, but it is unlikely they will demutualise.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In addition, it is a mutual company and profits, if realised from its other businesses, are paid into the with-profits fund.’
      • ‘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’.