Definition of mutual in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmyo͞oCH(o͞o)əl/


1(Of a feeling or action) experienced or done by each of two or more parties toward the other or others: a partnership based on mutual respect and understanding my father hated him from the start, and the feeling was mutual
More example sentences
  • ‘We met around town in Detroit and just had a mutual admiration and respect, then just sort of gravitated toward one another,’ says Benson.
  • But this has not affected the mutual love and respect he and his children feel for one another.
  • Dara seemed to have mutual feelings toward it since she whipped out her newly charged cell phone and began punching in numbers.
1.1(Of two or more people) having the same specified relationship to each other: they were mutual beneficiaries of the settlement
More example sentences
  • They were mutual admirers of each other's work and had wanted to record together for some time.
2Held in common by two or more parties: we were introduced by a mutual friend
More example sentences
  • Men preferred friends with mutual acquaintances and common interests, while women valued laughter, honesty and trust.
  • But we had mutual friends in common, and the most significant one was this chap, James Coldhurst.
  • He waived the hourly fee after discovering a mutual common interest in the gym.
2.1Denoting an insurance company or other corporate organization owned by its members and dividing some or all of its profits between them.
Example sentences
  • Deep in Glasgow's business district, nearly all the grand former building societies, mutual associations and insurance offices have been transformed into eateries and drinkeries.
  • Furthermore, several building societies and mutual life assurance companies have converted to listed companies over the past fifteen years, providing windfall shares to their members.
  • In previous years, building societies and mutual companies (those without shareholders) usually dominated these annual surveys of the cheapest lenders.


Some traditionalists consider using mutual to mean ‘common to two or more people’ ( a mutual friend; a mutual interest) to be incorrect, holding that a sense of reciprocity is necessary ( mutual respect; mutual need). The use they object to has a long and respectable history, however, being first recorded in Shakespeare and appearing in the writing of Sir Walter Scott, George Eliot, and, most famously, as the title of Dickens’s novel Our Mutual Friend. It is now generally accepted as part of standard English.


Late 15th century: from Old French mutuel, from Latin mutuus 'mutual, borrowed'; related to mutare 'to change'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mu·tu·al

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