1792, in a French context, "a community organized and self-governed for local interest, subordinate to the state," from French commune "small territorial divisions set up after the Revolution," from Middle French commune "free city, group of citizens" (12c.), from Medieval Latin communia, literally "that which is common," noun use of neuter plural of Latin adjective communis "common, general" (see common (adj.)).
I am not aware that any English word precisely corresponds to the general term of the original. In France every association of human dwellings forms a commune, and every commune is governed by a Maire and a Conseil municipal. In other words, the mancipium, or municipal privilege, which belongs in England to chartered corporations alone, is alike extended to every commune into which the cantons and departments of France were divided at the Revolution. [translator's note (Henry Reeve) to 1838 English edition of de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America"]
The English word sometimes was used in reference to the idealistic communities formed in U.S. c. 1840s, inspired by Fourier and Owen, and was used in late 1960s of hippie settlements established along similar lines.
The Commune of Paris usurped the government during the Reign of Terror. The word later was applied to a government on communalistic principles set up in Paris in 1871 upon the withdrawal of the Germans, which was quickly suppressed by national troops. Adherents of the 1871 government were Communards. Communer is from or based on French communier.
c. 1300, "have dealings with," from Old French comuner "to make common, share" (10c., Modern French communier), from comun "common, general, free, open, public" (see common (adj.)). Meaning "to talk intimately" is late 14c. Related: Communed; communing.
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