commonplace

EnglishEdit

EtymologyEdit

A calque of Latin locus commūnis, referring to a generally applicable literary passage, itself is a calque of Ancient Greek κοινός τόπος (koinos topos).

PronunciationEdit

  • (file)

AdjectiveEdit

commonplace (comparative more commonplace, superlative most commonplace)

  1. Ordinary; having no remarkable characteristics.
    • 1824, Sir Walter Scott, St. Ronan's Well, ch. 7:
      "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, 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, Under Western Eyes, ch. 1:
      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.

SynonymsEdit

TranslationsEdit

NounEdit

commonplace (plural commonplaces)

  1. A platitude or cliché.
    • 1899, Stephen Crane, Active Service, ch. 17:
      Finally he began to mutter some commonplaces which meant nothing particularly.
    • 1910, Elinor Glyn, His Hour, ch. 4:
      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.
    • 1891, Arthur Conan Doyle, "A Case of Identity" in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes:
      "My dear fellow," said Sherlock Holmes as we sat on either side of the fire in his lodgings at Baker Street, "life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence."
  3. A memorandum; something to be frequently consulted or referred to.
    • Jonathan Swift
      Whatever, in my reading, occurs concerning this our fellow creature, I do never fail to set it down by way of commonplace.

TranslationsEdit

VerbEdit

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 find and add a quotation of Felton to this entry?)
  3. (obsolete) To utter commonplaces; to indulge in platitudes.
    • 1910, Elinor Glyn, His Hour, ch. 4:
      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 termsEdit

Last modified on 7 April 2014, at 14:22