Online Encyclopedia

COMMONPLACE

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 779 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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COMMONPLACE, a translation of the Gr. Kotvos roaos, i.e. a passage or argument appropriate to several cases; a " common-place book " is a collection of such passages or quotations arranged for reference under general heads either alphabetically or on some method of classification. To such a book the name adversaria was given, which is an adaptation of the Latin adversaria scripta, notes written on one side, the side opposite (adversus), of a paper or book. From its original meaning the word came to be used as meaning something hackneyed, a platitude or truism, and so, as an adjective, equivalent to trivial or ordinary. It was first spelled as two words, then with a hyphen, and so still in the sense of a " common-place book."
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