commonplace

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

A calque of Latin locus commūnis, referring to a generally applicable literary passage, itself a calque of Ancient Greek κοινὸς τόπος (koinòs tópos).

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

commonplace (comparative more commonplace, superlative most commonplace)

  1. Ordinary; not having any remarkable characteristics.
    Synonyms: routine, undistinguished, unexceptional; see also Thesaurus:hackneyed
    Antonyms: distinguished, inimitable, unique
    • 1824, Sir Walter Scott, chapter 7, in St. Ronan's Well:
      "This Mr. Tyrrel," she said, in a tone of authoritative decision, "seems after all a very ordinary sort of person, quite a commonplace man."
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 1, in The Celebrity:
      In the old days, to my commonplace and unobserving mind, he gave no evidences of genius whatsoever. He never read me any of his manuscripts, [], and therefore my lack of detection of his promise may in some degree be pardoned.
    • 1911, Joseph Conrad, chapter 1, in Under Western Eyes:
      I could get hold of nothing but of some commonplace phrases, those futile phrases that give the measure of our impotence before each other's trials.

Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

commonplace (plural commonplaces)

  1. A platitude or cliché.
    • 1899, Stephen Crane, chapter 17, in Active Service:
      Finally he began to mutter some commonplaces which meant nothing particularly.
    • 1910, Elinor Glyn, chapter 4, in His Hour:
      And something angered Tamara in the way the Prince assisted in all this, out-commonplacing her friend in commonplaces with the suavest politeness.
  2. Something that is ordinary.
  3. A memorandum; something to be frequently consulted or referred to.
    • (Can we date this quote by Jonathan Swift and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Whatever, in my reading, occurs concerning this our fellow creature, I do never fail to set it down by way of commonplace.
  4. A commonplace book.

Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

commonplace (third-person singular simple present commonplaces, present participle commonplacing, simple past and past participle commonplaced)

  1. To make a commonplace book.
  2. To enter in a commonplace book, or to reduce to general heads.
    • (Can we date this quote by Felton and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      I do not apprehend any difficulty in collecting and commonplacing an universal history from the historians.
  3. (obsolete) To utter commonplaces; to indulge in platitudes.
    • 1910, Elinor Glyn, chapter 4, in His Hour:
      And something angered Tamara in the way the Prince assisted in all this, out-commonplacing her friend in commonplaces with the suavest politeness.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Francis Bacon to this entry?)

Related terms[edit]