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Common vs. Unique: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 8, 2023
Common refers to something usual or shared by many, while unique signifies being the only one of its kind or without equal.

Key Differences

The term 'common' is used to describe something that is found frequently or is widespread, a characteristic shared by many. It's the ordinary, the familiar, the everyday. Conversely, 'unique' points to something singular and exceptional that stands out from the rest; it's not shared and is often remarkable due to its rarity.
In the realm of experiences, common ones are those that most people can relate to, like enjoying a sunset. Unique experiences, however, are individual and rare, like witnessing a solar eclipse in a specific place. The commonality of an experience does not detract from its value, just as the uniqueness of an experience doesn't always guarantee its significance.
When discussing objects, a common object is one that can be found in multiple places, like a smartphone model that millions use. A unique object, however, has a distinct quality or feature that sets it apart, such as a phone with a hand-painted custom case.
In human traits, common characteristics are those shared by large groups, like common interests in sports or music. Unique traits, however, define an individual's distinct personality or talents, which set them apart from others.
The common path is often the well-trodden one, the safe and expected route. The unique path is the road less traveled, marked by individual choices and unexpected turns that define a person's unique journey through life.

Comparison Chart


Found frequently, usual, shared by many.
The only one of its kind, distinctive.

Usage in Language

Regularly used terms and phrases.
Rare or specialized terms.


Can imply normalcy or lack of distinction.
Implies rarity and individuality.


Common events or situations occur often.
Unique events are rare or singular.


Often seen as less valuable due to frequency.
Usually perceived as more valuable due to rarity.

Common and Unique Definitions


Shared by many.
Parks are common spaces for everyone to enjoy.


Being the only one of its kind.
She has a unique talent for singing.


Frequent or prevalent.
Cold weather is common in winter.


Highly distinctive or unusual.
The artist's style is quite unique.


Standard or regular.
It's just a common courtesy to hold the door.


Without equal or unparalleled.
His contribution to science was unique.


Unremarkable or typical.
A common response to the question surprised no one.


Exclusive or specific.
They shared a unique bond that was all their own.


Ordinary or usual.
It's common to feel nervous before an exam.


Rare or uncommon.
Finding a four-leaf clover is unique.


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


Being the only one of its kind
The unique existing example of Donne's handwriting.


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


Characteristic only of a particular category or entity
A weather pattern that is unique to coastal areas.


Is something common of less value?

Not necessarily; common things can be essential and valuable.

Can something be common and unique?

In certain contexts, yes, if it's common in one aspect but unique in another.

Does unique always mean better?

Unique doesn't inherently mean better; it simply means one-of-a-kind.

How do you use unique in a sentence?

Example: She has a unique perspective on the issue.

What does common mean in everyday speech?

Common in everyday speech refers to something typical or frequently encountered.

Can unique refer to people?

Yes, unique can describe a person's distinctive qualities.

Are common practices important?

Yes, they are often foundational to societal norms.

Is there a unique way of doing something common?

Absolutely, personal touches can make common tasks unique.

Can common also mean shared?

Yes, common can mean belonging to or shared by two or more individuals.

Is unique a subjective term?

It can be, as uniqueness can depend on one's perspective.

What is a common misconception?

A widely held but incorrect belief.

How do you use common in a sentence?

Example: It's common to drink coffee in the morning.

Are unique things always rare?

Typically, yes, since unique things are distinguished by their rarity.

Does unique imply superiority?

It can suggest distinction, but not necessarily superiority.

What makes an object unique?

Unique objects have qualities that set them apart from all others.

Does common have a negative connotation?

It can, suggesting something is mundane or ordinary.

Is being unique always desirable?

While often seen as positive, being unique can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation.

Can unique items be replicated?

Replication would make them no longer unique in the strictest sense.

What's a common trait among humans?

A common trait is the ability to learn and adapt.

Can a common event become unique?

Under certain circumstances, such as a common event happening in an unusual context.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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