c.1300, "belonging to all, general," from Old French comun "common, general, free, open, public" (9c., Modern French commun), from Latin communis "in common, public, shared by all or many; general, not specific; familiar, not pretentious," from PIE *ko-moin-i- "held in common," compound adjective formed from *ko- "together" + *moi-n-, suffixed form of root *mei- "change, exchange" (see mutable), hence literally "shared by all."
Second element of the compound also is the source of Latin munia "duties, public duties, functions," those related to munia "office." Perhaps reinforced in Old French by the Germanic form of PIE *ko-moin-i- (cf. Old English gemæne "common, public, general, universal;" see mean (adj.)), which came to French via Frankish.
Used disparagingly of women and criminals since c.1300. Common pleas is 13c., from Anglo-French communs plets, hearing civil actions by one subject against another as opposed to pleas of the crown. Common prayer is contrasted with private prayer. Common stock is attested from 1888.