Definition of commonwealth in English:


Line breaks: com¦mon|wealth
Pronunciation: /ˈkɒmənwɛlθ


  • 1An independent state or community, especially a democratic republic.
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    • It was a liberal empire and a democratic commonwealth, and its aim, as with America in the Philippines, was to prepare its components for self-government.
    • He encouraged the Mormons to be self-sufficient and created an independent commonwealth.
    • This is an amazing example of what John Locke argued in his Second Treatise about what man in a state of nature gives up when he joins a commonwealth and enters a society that agrees to give up some of their power to form a government.
  • 1.1An aggregate or grouping of states or other bodies: a union or commonwealth of democratic, self-governing countries
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    • Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchial duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories including New Jersey.
    • Only thus can Europe have any ideological and cultural glue; without it we are just a commonwealth of states in a customs union’.
    • Comparisons might be drawn between these early kingdoms and a commonwealth of nations, each gradually seeking independence from the old imperial, provincial, or colonial structures to which they had once been subject.
  • 1.2A community of shared interests in a non-political field: the Christian commonwealth the commonwealth of letters
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    • The advocates and champions of these different initiatives have yet to unite in any noticeable way around their shared interests in the commonwealth of learning and access to public goods.
    • And so, I beg each one of you: put away your selfish interest and merge yourselves into the commonwealth of men so that we may proceed together.
    • He said the connection of young people within the commonwealth stimulated the group to convene the forum so that common strategies of involvement could be developed alongside networking mechanisms.
  • 1.3A self-governing unit voluntarily grouped with the US, such as Puerto Rico: the island became a commonwealth of the United States in 1986
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    • Formally, Puerto Rico is a commonwealth in free association with the US.
    • Officially, Puerto Rico became a U.S. commonwealth in 1952, when the island was granted limited self-government.
    • Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, meaning that it is subject to most federal regulations and subsidies.
  • 1.4A formal title of some of the states of the US, especially Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
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    • And it's an historic day because finally all families in the commonwealth of Massachusetts will have the opportunity to be equal families under the law.
    • The commonwealth of Pennsylvania mandates that all dog owners license their pets by the time they are six months old.
    • This is Beacon Hill, the state house for the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • 1.5The title of the federated Australian states.
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    • It has not happened because the commonwealth lacks the constitutional power and the states have never all agreed to relinquish responsibility.
    • He pointed out that the commonwealth had the power, under international environmental treaties, to stop any development that was threatening protected wetlands.
    • The states ceded some taxation powers to the commonwealth around the time of the second world war.
  • 1.6 (the Commonwealth) The republican period of government in Britain between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the Restoration of Charles II in 1660.
  • 2 (the Commonwealth, in full the Commonwealth of Nations) An international association consisting of the UK together with states that were previously part of the British Empire, and dependencies.
  • 3 (the commonwealth) • archaic The general good.
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    • The notion of a commonwealth, of a common good, is disappearing.
    • For he must in the true sense of the word serve no one but the commonwealth.


late Middle English (originally as two words, denoting public welfare; compare with commonweal): from common + wealth.

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