Definition of commonwealth in English:


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  • 1An independent country or community, especially a democratic republic.

    ‘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.’
    • ‘Another aspect of the cosmology working toward the creation and maintenance of the Yoruba commonwealth is the power of the Orisa to mediate during times of conflict and warfare.’
    • ‘He succeeded in creating a commonwealth in the warring tribes in Arabia.’
    • ‘In it, Cicero lays out the laws that would be followed in the ideal commonwealth.’
    • ‘He received a $30,000 grant from the commonwealth to expand one of the bunk houses.’
    • ‘The site has story ideas, regional links and everything you ever wanted to know about the commonwealth.’
    • ‘They feared immigration from Asia and so decided to federate their six colonies into one commonwealth.’
    • ‘It was a colony from 1898 until 1952, when it became a commonwealth.’
    • ‘Since they were in effect excluded from membership of the English commonwealth, they continued to cultivate their own separate identity.’
    • ‘Chapters 10 and 11 dig more deeply into the mechanisms that transform capitalism and lead to a socialist commonwealth.’
    • ‘As the Courant noted, with the polluted water, ‘the public health is endangered… and the interest of the commonwealth demands a correction of the evil.’’
    1. 1.1An aggregate or grouping of countries or other bodies.
      ‘a union or commonwealth of democratic, self-governing countries’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘All of which gave him a fine opportunity to turn up and support all that is best about the game, and recognise the role it plays in giving (at least some) of the countries in the commonwealth something in common.’
      • ‘‘She has helped us feel that being a citizen of this country and the wider commonwealth is like being a member of a family whose common interest and memories endure beneath and beyond all debates and conflicts,’ he said.’
      • ‘Whether he will entirely convince his readers that England was first amongst equals in a commonwealth of British nations remains to be seen.’
      • ‘I was impressed by the gifts from all nations in the commonwealth.’
      • ‘There's no question that Prince William is the person everyone would like to see as king one day, especially the young people in this country, and I have no doubt, throughout the commonwealth.’
      • ‘The co-operative commonwealth itself is, they insist, for the distant future.’
      • ‘The EU can in some respects be likened to an empire; it is a structure that sets standards of internal governance but in return offers its members a share in the decision-making, a place in the commonwealth.’
      • ‘‘Our country is in need of our assistance and we all should cooperate and put in our share as a United States commonwealth,’ he said.’
      • ‘At any rate, chances are we would remain a member of the commonwealth if we became a republic, so we would be recognising this ‘living heritage’ regardless of whether we were a monarchy or republic.’
      • ‘The Union of Lublin in 1569 united Poland and Lithuania into a commonwealth.’
    2. 1.2A community or organization of shared interests in a nonpolitical field.
      ‘the Christian commonwealth’
      • ‘the commonwealth of letters’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They were " an intolerable liberty in a Christian commonwealth ", almanac readers were told.’
      • ‘From the moment the new government opened for business in 1789, the question - "Is the United States destined to be a Christian Commonwealth or an Empire of Liberty?" - spurred heated debate.’
    3. 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A U.S. commonwealth since 1952, Puerto Rico has maintained a strong sense of nationalism.’
      • ‘If Puerto Ricans vote to become a state, there will be a huge push by the Democrats to admit this largely Democratic commonwealth to the U.S. as the 51st state.’
      • ‘When state employees and teachers are added to the mix, the commonwealth has 516,000 government workers - more than the combined populations of Pittsburgh, Reading and Allentown.’
      • ‘Although Americans generally do not consider themselves an imperial or colonial power, the country has a number of commonwealths and territories, most of which were acquired through military conquest.’
      • ‘Despite political initiatives aimed at redefining Guam's status as a U.S. commonwealth, it remained an unincorporated territory as the twentieth century ended.’
      • ‘Luckily for American visitors, Puerto Rico is very much a U.S. commonwealth, with English widely spoken and the dollar the coin of the realm.’
      • ‘Q. Is the Free State Project considering American commonwealths such as the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa?’
      • ‘A covenant to establish a commonwealth in political union with the US was approved in 1975.’
    4. 1.4A formal title of some of the states of the US, especially Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
      ‘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.’
      • ‘The commonwealth of Virginia has seen a significant increase in the number of joint-use facilities and collaborative partnerships in recent years.’
      • ‘‘The horse industry is a vital source of tourism and recreation in the commonwealth of Kentucky,’ Lewis said.’
      • ‘‘The same way counterfeit money threatens the economy of the commonwealth of Virginia,’ said Del.’
    5. 1.5The title of the federated Australian states.
      ‘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.’
      • ‘Now in addition to the commonwealth, all state governments support non-government schools.’
      • ‘The figures deduced play a key role in determining the number of seats in the House of Representatives and in the allocation of government grants from the commonwealth to the states and territories.’
      • ‘Commonwealth funding to the high school is currently at about $440,000 annually.’
      • ‘Because the states directly provide the greatest share of schools funding, the percentage increases for the commonwealth are higher.’
    6. 1.6the CommonwealthThe republican period of government in Britain between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the Restoration of Charles II in 1660.
  • 2the Commonwealth

    (also the Commonwealth of Nations)
    An international association consisting of the UK together with states that were previously part of the British Empire, and dependencies. The British monarch is the symbolic head of the Commonwealth.

  • 3the commonwealth archaic The general good.

    ‘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.’



/ˈkämənˌwelTH/ /ˈkɑmənˌwɛlθ/


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