Definition of mutual in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmjuːtʃʊəl/
Pronunciation: /ˈmjuːtʃ(ə)l/


1(Of a feeling or action) experienced or done by each of two or more parties towards the other or others: a partnership based on mutual respect and understanding my father hated him from the start and the feeling was mutual his contract with City has been terminated by mutual consent
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 cooperated as potentially 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.
3Denoting a building society or insurance company owned by its members and dividing some or all of its profits between them: Scottish Amicable may switch from mutual to plc status
More 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.


A mutual building society or insurance company: life insurance firms are mutuals, owned by their policyholders
More example sentences
  • There are disturbing parallels here with the insurance mutuals, building societies and friendly societies that have already demutualised or are actively contemplating demutualisation.
  • A spokesman said: ‘We are happy to compete with other banks, mutuals and building societies and indeed we do just that.’
  • Britain's financial mutuals, including Standard Life, Nationwide and the Equitable are heading towards stormy annual meetings as members line up to launch attacks on the boards and managements.


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

Line breaks: mu¦tual

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