Words related to common
Originally a theory of society. As the name of a political or economic theory which rests upon the abolition of the right of private property, especially the means of production and distribution, and seeks the overthrow of capitalism by revolutions, it is attested from 1850, a translation of German Kommunismus (itself from French), in Marx and Engels' "Manifesto of the Communist Party." Compare communist.
By 1919 and through mid-20c. it was a general a term of abuse for revolutionaries, implying anti-social criminality without regard to political theory.
Each [i.e. socialism, communism, anarchism] stands for a state of things, or a striving after it, that differs much from that which we know; & for many of us, especially those who are comfortably at home in the world as it is, they have consequently come to be the positive, comparative, & superlative, distinguished not in kind but in degree only, of the terms of abuse applicable to those who would disturb our peace. [Fowler]
1841, as both a noun and adjective, from French communiste, from commun (Old French comun "common, general, free, open, public;" see common (adj.)) + -iste (see -ist). First attested in writing by John Goodwin Barmby (1820-1881), British Owenite and utopian socialist who founded the London Communist Propaganda Society in 1841. Main modern sense, "an opponent of capitalism or supporter of revolutionary leftism," emerged after publication of Communist Manifesto ("Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei") in 1848.
All communists without exception propose that the people as a whole, or some particular division of the people, as a village or commune, should own all the means of production--land, houses, factories, railroads, canals, etc.; that production should be carried on in common; and that officers, selected in one way or another, should distribute among the inhabitants the fruits of their labor. [Richard T. Ely, "French and German Socialism in Modern Times," New York, 1883]
Shortened form Commie is attested from 1939. Century Dictionary (1900) recognizes the noun alone; as an adjective it has only communistic (1850) "relating to communists or communism."
late 14c., "a number of people associated together by the fact of residence in the same locality," also "the common people" (not the rulers or the clergy), from Old French comunité "community, commonness, everybody" (Modern French communauté), from Latin communitatem (nominative communitas) "community, society, fellowship, friendly intercourse; courtesy, condescension, affability," from communis "common, public, general, shared by all or many" (see common (adj.)).
Latin communitatem "was merely a noun of quality ... meaning 'fellowship, community of relations or feelings' " [OED], but in Medieval Latin it came to be used concretely to mean "a society, a division of people." In English, the meaning "common possession or enjoyment" is from c. 1400. Sense of "a society or association of persons having common interests or occupations" also is from c. 1400.
An Old English word for "community" was gemænscipe "community, fellowship, union, common ownership," from mæne "common, public, general," and thus probably composed from the same PIE roots as communis. Middle English also had commonty (late 14c.) "the common people; a community," also later meaning "land held in common" (c. 1600).
Community service as a criminal sentence is recorded from 1972, American English. Community college, one offering post-secondary instruction geared to local needs and interests, is recorded from 1947, American English. Community chest "fund made up of individual donations to meet the needs of charity and social welfare in a community" is from 1919, American English.
The Community Chest is a device to consolidate all these separate [charitable] appeals, and go before the people once a year with a budget which appropriates to each organization the amount which it needs to make up the difference between its income from other sources, and its necessary expenses. By this means not only are the charities relieved of financial worry and adequately supported, but the public is spared the irritation of constant solicitation, which is all the more unbusinesslike because it is decentralized and not subject to outside disinterested scrutiny. ["New Jersey Municipalities," December 1919]
"to cut off by an ecclesiastical sentence either from the sacraments of the church or from all fellowship and intercourse with its members," early 15c., from Late Latin excommunicatus, past participle of excommunicare "put out of the community," in Church Latin "to expel from communion," from ex "out" (see ex-) + communicare "to share, communicate," related to communis "common" (see common (adj.)). Related: Excommunicated; excommunicating.
"a cutting off or casting out from communication, deprivation of communion or the privileges of intercourse," specifically the formal exclusion of a person from religious communion and privileges, mid-15c., from Late Latin excommunicationem (nominative excommunicatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of excommunicare "put out of the community," in Church Latin "to expel from communion," from ex "out" (see ex-) + communicare "to share, communicate," related to communis "common" (see common (adj.)).
1844, American English, from Spanish incomunicado, past participle of incomunicar "deprive of communication," from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + comunicar "communicate," from Latin communicare "to share, impart," literally "to make common," related to communis "common, public, general" (see common (adj.)).
c. 1200, mēne, "shared by all, common, general," a sense now obsolete, shortened from imene, from Old English gemæne "common, public, general, universal, shared by all," from Proto-Germanic *ga-mainiz "possessed jointly" (source also of Old Frisian mene, Old Saxon gimeni, Middle Low German gemeine, Middle Dutch gemene, Dutch gemeen, German gemein, Gothic gamains "common"), from PIE *ko-moin-i- "held in common," a compound adjective formed from collective prefix *ko- "together" (Proto-Germanic *ga-) + *moi-n-, suffixed form of PIE root *mei- (1) "to change; exchange." Compare second element in common (adj.), a word with a sense evolution parallel to that of this word.
Meaning "of common or low origin, inferior in rank or status" (of persons) is attested from early 14c. Sense of "ordinary, inferior in attainment or skill" is from late 14c. Also from late 14c. as "poor in quality, of little value," though this sense survived longer in American than in England. James Stirling, in "Letters from the Slave States" [London, 1857], mentioning mean whites (poor whites in the South who do manual labor and are looked down on by the slaves) notes, " 'Mean' is an Americanism for 'poor,' 'shabby.' They speak here of a 'mean' hotel, a 'mean' dinner, &c."
The pejorative sense of "without dignity of mind, destitute of honor, low-minded" is from 1660s; the specific sense of "stingy, niggardly" is recorded by 1755; the weaker sense of "disobliging, pettily offensive" is from 1839, originally American English slang. All these developments of the English word were furthered by its coincidence in form with mean (adj.2) "middle, middling," which also was used in disparaging senses, and OED notes that some usages of mean it cites "might be referred almost equally to the native and to the foreign adj.; the truth is probably that they are of mixed ancestry."
The inverted sense of "remarkably good" (as in plays a mean Rhythm Master) first recorded c. 1900, perhaps from phrase no mean _______ "not inferior" (1590s, also, "not average," reflecting further confusion with mean (adj.2.)).