# Common vs. Average: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 2, 2023
"Common" refers to something frequent or shared by many; "Average" is a value representing the central or typical value in a set of data, calculated typically as the sum of the values divided by their number.

## Key Differences

The terms "common" and "average" carry different meanings, addressing frequency and numerical representation respectively. "Common" pertains to something that is prevalent or shared among many. For example, a common belief is a conviction shared by a significant number of individuals. On the other hand, "average" is a mathematical term representing the central or typical value in a set of data, typically calculated by dividing the sum of all values by their number. The average serves as a single value representing the general standard or mean of a group of values.
Delving into the concept of "common," it encompasses occurrences, characteristics, or elements that are usual or shared by many within a group or category. When something is deemed common, it implies that it is not rare or unique, often serving to represent normalcy or a shared experience or characteristic. On the contrast, the term "average" conveys a mathematical or statistical measure, reflecting a value derived from a series of data points. It’s a quantitative way to express a middle or central value, often utilized to offer an overview of a data set’s general trend or to summarize information.
Examining "common" in relation to frequency and prevalence, it can pertain to a variety of situations, characteristics, or entities, emphasizing ubiquity or shared experiences or attributes. It is a qualitative descriptor that does not rely on numerical calculations but rather on observation and perception. Conversely, "average," by its numerical nature, demands specific calculations and is inherently quantitative, offering a summarizing value that provides insight into the central tendency of a group of numbers, allowing for analyses and comparisons.
The differences between "common" and "average" are fundamental in discussions, analyses, and evaluations. "Common" provides insight into the shared, prevalent characteristics or occurrences within a specific context, offering a qualitative perspective. "Average," in its mathematical essence, yields a concise numerical representation of a set of values, providing a quantitative perspective that facilitates understanding, comparison, and interpretation of data, highlighting the mean or central tendencies within a numerical data set.

## Comparison Chart

### Meaning

Refers to something frequent or usual among many
Represents the central or typical value in a set of data

Qualitative
Quantitative

### Application

Descriptive term for frequency or prevalence
Mathematical term for central tendency

### Calculation

Based on observation and perception
Requires specific mathematical calculations

### Representation

Represents shared, usual characteristics or occurrences
Represents a summarizing value of a data set

## Common and Average Definitions

#### Common

Frequently found or seen.
It is common to see rain in April.

#### Average

Achieving a level that is typical or expected.
His performance was average, neither excellent nor poor.

#### Common

Shared by, coming from, or done by more than one.
The common goal was to finish the project on time.

#### Average

Mediocore, common, ordinary in quality.
The food was average, not remarkable.

#### Common

Belonging equally to or shared equally by two or more; joint
Common interests.

#### Average

Calculated by adding quantities together and then dividing by the number of quantities.
The average temperature in July is 85 degrees.

#### Common

Of or relating to the community as a whole; public
For the common good.

#### Average

Representing a middle or compromise situation.
The average voter is concerned about the economy.

#### Common

Gas stations became common as the use of cars grew.

#### Average

A number that typifies a set of numbers of which it is a function.

#### Common

Occurring frequently or habitually; usual
It is common for movies to last 90 minutes or more.

#### Average

See arithmetic mean.

#### Common

Most widely known; ordinary
The common housefly.

#### Average

An intermediate level or degree
Near the average in size.

#### Common

Having no special designation, status, or rank
A common sailor.

#### Average

The usual or ordinary kind or quality
Although the wines vary, the average is quite good.

#### Common

Not distinguished by superior or noteworthy characteristics; average
The common spectator.

#### Average

(Sports)The ratio of a team's or player's successful performances such as wins, hits, or goals, divided by total opportunities for successful performance, such as games, times at bat, or shots
Finished the season with a .500 average.
A batting average of .274.

#### Common

Of no special quality; standard
Common procedure.

#### Average

The loss of a ship or cargo, caused by damage at sea.

#### Common

Of mediocre or inferior quality; second-rate
Common cloth.

#### Average

The incurrence of damage or loss of a ship or cargo at sea.

#### Common

Unrefined or coarse in manner; vulgar
Behavior that branded him as common.

#### Average

The equitable distribution of such a loss among concerned parties.

#### Common

Either masculine or feminine in gender.

#### Average

A charge incurred through such a loss.

#### Common

Representing one or all of the members of a class; not designating a unique entity.

#### Average

(Nautical)Small expenses or charges that are usually paid by the master of a ship.

#### Common

Commons The common people; commonalty.

#### Average

(Mathematics)Of, relating to, or constituting an average.

#### Common

The social class composed of commoners.

#### Average

Being intermediate between extremes, as on a scale
A movie of average length.
A player of average ability.

#### Common

The parliamentary representatives of this class.

#### Average

Usual or ordinary in kind or character
A poll of average people.
Average eyesight.

#### Common

Commons The House of Commons.

#### Average

Assessed in accordance with the law of averages.

#### Common

A tract of land, usually in a centrally located spot, belonging to or used by a community as a whole
A band concert on the village common.

#### Average

(Mathematics)To calculate the average of
Average a set of numbers.

#### Common

The legal right of a person to use the lands or waters of another, as for fishing.

#### Average

To do or have an average of
Averaged three hours of work a day.

#### Common

Commons(used with a sing. verb) A building or hall for dining, typically at a university or college.

#### Average

To distribute proportionately
Average one's income over four years so as to minimize the tax rate.

Common stock.

#### Average

To be or amount to an average
Some sparrows are six inches long, but they average smaller. Our expenses averaged out to 45 dollars per day.

#### Common

(Ecclesiastical) A service used for a particular class of festivals.

#### Average

(mathematics) The arithmetic mean.
2=The average of 10, 20 and 24 is (10 + 20 + 24)/3 = 18.

#### Common

Mutual; shared by more than one.
The two competitors have the common aim of winning the championship.
Winning the championship is an aim common to the two competitors.

#### Average

(statistics) Any measure of central tendency, especially any mean, the median, or the mode.

#### Common

Occurring or happening regularly or frequently; usual.
It is common to find sharks off this coast.

#### Average

Financial loss due to damage to transported goods; compensation for damage or loss.

#### Common

Found in large numbers or in a large quantity; usual.
Commoner used to be commoner, but more common is now more common.
Sharks are common in these waters.
It differs from the common blackbird in the size of its beak.

#### Average

Customs duty or similar charge payable on transported goods.

#### Common

Simple, ordinary or vulgar.

#### Average

Proportional or equitable distribution of financial expense.

#### Common

(grammar) Of, pertaining or belonging to the common gender.

#### Average

(sports) An indication of a player's ability calculated from his scoring record, etc.
Batting average

#### Common

(grammar) Of or pertaining to common nouns as opposed to proper nouns.

#### Average

In the corn trade, the medial price of the several kinds of grain in the principal corn markets.

#### Common

Vernacular, referring to the name of a kind of plant or animal, i.e., common name vs. scientific name.

#### Average

The service that a tenant owed his lord, to be done by the animals of the tenant, such as the transportation of wheat, turf, etc.

#### Common

(obsolete) Profane; polluted.

#### Average

(not comparable) Constituting or relating to the average.
The average age of the participants was 18.5.

#### Common

(obsolete) Given to lewd habits; prostitute.

#### Average

Neither very good nor very bad; rated somewhere in the middle of all others in the same category.
I soon found I was only an average chess player.

#### Common

Mutual good, shared by more than one.

#### Average

Typical.
The average family will not need the more expensive features of this product.

#### Common

A tract of land in common ownership; common land.

#### Average

(informal) Not outstanding, not good, banal; bad or poor.

#### Common

The people; the community.

#### Average

(transitive) To compute the average of, especially the arithmetic mean.
If you average 10, 20 and 24, you get 18.

#### Common

(legal) The right of taking a profit in the land of another, in common either with the owner or with other persons; so called from the community of interest which arises between the claimant of the right and the owner of the soil, or between the claimants and other commoners entitled to the same right.

#### Average

(transitive) Over a period of time or across members of a population, to have or generate a mean value of.
The daily high temperature last month averaged 15°C.
I averaged 75% in my examinations this year.

#### Common

(obsolete) To communicate (something).

#### Average

(transitive) To divide among a number, according to a given proportion.
To average a loss

#### Common

(obsolete) To converse, talk.

#### Average

(intransitive) To be, generally or on average.

#### Common

(obsolete) To have sex.

#### Average

That service which a tenant owed his lord, to be done by the work beasts of the tenant, as the carriage of wheat, turf, etc.

#### Common

(obsolete) To participate.

#### Average

A tariff or duty on goods, etc.

#### Common

(obsolete) To have a joint right with others in common ground.

#### Average

A mean proportion, medial sum or quantity, made out of unequal sums or quantities; an arithmetical mean. Thus, if A loses 5 dollars, B 9, and C 16, the sum is 30, and the average 10.

#### Common

(obsolete) To board together; to eat at a table in common.

#### Average

Any medial estimate or general statement derived from a comparison of diverse specific cases; a medium or usual size, quantity, quality, rate, etc.

#### Common

Belonging or relating equally, or similarly, to more than one; as, you and I have a common interest in the property.
Though life and sense be common to men and brutes.

#### Average

In the English corn trade, the medial price of the several kinds of grain in the principal corn markets.

#### Common

Belonging to or shared by, affecting or serving, all the members of a class, considered together; general; public; as, properties common to all plants; the common schools; the Book of Common Prayer.
Such actions as the common good requireth.
The common enemy of man.

#### Average

Pertaining to an average or mean; medial; containing a mean proportion; of a mean size, quality, ability, etc.; ordinary; usual; as, an average rate of profit; an average amount of rain; the average Englishman; beings of the average stamp.

#### Common

Often met with; usual; frequent; customary.
Grief more than common grief.

#### Average

According to the laws of averages; as, the loss must be made good by average contribution.

#### Common

Not distinguished or exceptional; inconspicuous; ordinary; plebeian; - often in a depreciatory sense.
The honest, heart-felt enjoyment of common life.
This fact was infamousAnd ill beseeming any common man,Much more a knight, a captain and a leader.
Above the vulgar flight of common souls.

#### Average

To find the mean of, when sums or quantities are unequal; to reduce to a mean.

#### Common

Profane; polluted.
What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

#### Average

To divide among a number, according to a given proportion; as, to average a loss.

#### Common

Given to habits of lewdness; prostitute.
A dame who herself was common.

#### Average

To do, accomplish, get, etc., on an average.

#### Common

The people; the community.

#### Average

To form, or exist in, a mean or medial sum or quantity; to amount to, or to be, on an average; as, the losses of the owners will average twenty five dollars each; these spars average ten feet in length.

#### Common

An inclosed or uninclosed tract of ground for pleasure, for pasturage, etc., the use of which belongs to the public; or to a number of persons.

#### Average

A statistic describing the location of a distribution;
It set the norm for American homes

#### Common

The right of taking a profit in the land of another, in common either with the owner or with other persons; - so called from the community of interest which arises between the claimant of the right and the owner of the soil, or between the claimants and other commoners entitled to the same right.

#### Average

Amount to or come to an average, without loss or gain;
The number of hours I work per work averages out to 40

#### Common

To converse together; to discourse; to confer.
Embassadors were sent upon both parts, and divers means of entreaty were commoned of.

#### Average

Achieve or reach on average;
He averaged a C

To participate.

#### Average

Compute the average of

#### Common

To have a joint right with others in common ground.

#### Average

Approximating the statistical norm or average or expected value;
The average income in New England is below that of the nation
Of average height for his age
The mean annual rainfall

#### Common

To board together; to eat at a table in common.

#### Average

Lacking special distinction, rank, or status; commonly encountered;
Average people
The ordinary (or common) man in the street

#### Common

A piece of open land for recreational use in an urban area;
They went for a walk in the park

#### Average

Of no exceptional quality or ability;
A novel of average merit
Only a fair performance of the sonata
In fair health
The caliber of the students has gone from mediocre to above average
The performance was middling at best

#### Common

Belonging to or participated in by a community as a whole; public;
For the common good
Common lands are set aside for use by all members of a community

#### Average

Around the middle of a scale of evaluation of physical measures;
An orange of average size
Intermediate capacity
A plane with intermediate range
Medium bombers

#### Common

Of no special distinction or quality; widely known or commonly encountered; average or ordinary or usual;
The common man
A common sailor
The common cold
A common nuisance
Followed common procedure
It is common knowledge that she lives alone
The common housefly
A common brand of soap

#### Average

Relating to or constituting the most frequent value in a distribution;
The modal age at which American novelists reach their peak is 30

#### Common

Common to or shared by two or more parties;
A common friend
The mutual interests of management and labor

#### Average

Relating to or constituting the middle value of an ordered set of values (or the average of the middle two in an even-numbered set);
The median value of 17, 20, and 36 is 20
The median income for the year was \$15,000

#### Common

Commonly encountered;
A common (or familiar) complaint
The usual greeting

#### Average

A number expressing the central or typical value in a set of data.
The average score of the class was 75.

#### Common

Being or characteristic of or appropriate to everyday language;
Common parlance
A vernacular term
Vernacular speakers
The vulgar tongue of the masses
The technical and vulgar names for an animal species

#### Common

Of or associated with the great masses of people;
The common people in those days suffered greatly
Behavior that branded him as common
His square plebeian nose
A vulgar and objectionable person
The unwashed masses

#### Common

Of low or inferior quality or value;
Of what coarse metal ye are molded
Produced...the common cloths used by the poorer population

#### Common

Lacking refinement or cultivation or taste;
He had coarse manners but a first-rate mind
Behavior that branded him as common
An untutored and uncouth human being
An uncouth soldier--a real tough guy
Appealing to the vulgar taste for violence
The vulgar display of the newly rich

#### Common

To be expected; standard;
Common decency

#### Common

Ordinary or usual; prevalent.
It’s a common practice to shake hands when meeting someone new.

#### Common

Lacking sophistication or good taste; vulgar.
The use of common language was discouraged in formal settings.

#### Common

Of the most familiar type.
A cold is a common illness.

## FAQs

#### Does ‘average’ always require a calculation?

Typically yes, 'average' usually involves calculating the central or typical value in a set of data.

#### Does ‘common’ imply lack of uniqueness?

Often yes, if something is described as 'common,' it usually implies it is not rare or unique.

#### Can ‘average’ be used to describe quality?

Yes, 'average' can describe something that is ordinary or of middle quality.

#### Is ‘common’ a qualitative term?

Yes, 'common' is generally qualitative, describing the nature or characteristic of something.

#### Can ‘common’ refer to shared ownership or use?

Yes, 'common' can denote something shared by, or available to, a community or group of people.

#### Can ‘common’ refer to shared attributes?

Yes, 'common' can describe attributes or characteristics shared by many.

#### Does ‘common’ imply shared opinions or beliefs?

Yes, 'common' can refer to opinions, beliefs, or goals shared by many individuals.

#### Is ‘common’ always used to describe frequency?

Primarily yes, 'common' often describes something frequent or usual, but it can also denote shared characteristics or ordinary occurrences.

#### Can ‘average’ be synonymous with ‘mediocre’ in terms of quality?

Yes, 'average' can be used to describe something that is neither poor nor excellent in quality.

#### Can the term ‘average’ be used to describe a compromise?

Yes, 'average' can represent a middle or compromise situation.

#### Can ‘common’ describe shared features or characteristics?

Yes, 'common' can describe features or characteristics that are shared or alike.

#### Can an ‘average’ be representative of a general trend?

Yes, an 'average' can be indicative of a general trend or pattern in a data set.

#### Is ‘average’ a quantitative term?

Yes, 'average' is inherently quantitative, expressing a value calculated from a set of data.

#### Is ‘common’ synonymous with ‘ordinary’?

Yes, 'common' can be synonymous with 'ordinary' or 'usual' in describing occurrences or characteristics.

#### Can the term ‘common’ be used in legal contexts?

Yes, 'common' is used in legal contexts, such as common law, to describe shared rights or principles.

#### Does the term ‘average’ have multiple mathematical definitions?

Yes, 'average' can refer to different measures of central tendency, including mean, median, and mode.

#### Is ‘average’ always a single value in a data set?

Usually, 'average' represents a single value that denotes the central or typical value in a set of data.

#### Is ‘average’ calculated differently in different contexts?

Yes, different types of averages, like mean, median, and mode, are calculated differently depending on the context.

#### Can ‘average’ be indicative of overall performance or quality?

Yes, 'average' can be used to give an indication of the overall performance, quality, or value.

#### Does ‘common’ describe mutual interests or goals?

Yes, 'common' can describe interests, goals, or objectives that are mutual or shared.