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I'm trying to succinctly describe something that occurs most frequently, and the only single-word adjective I can think of is "commonest", but that sounds ridiculous. Are there any other good adjectives I could use?

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It might depend on the context, but "commonest" doesn't sound ridiculous to me. –  Paul Spangle Aug 16 '11 at 15:11
    
Commonest is good. It precisely means most frequently occurring. What kind of something are you trying to describe? Without the context, it's hard to understand why it's not working for you. –  noa Aug 16 '11 at 15:28
    
What's wrong with common? –  whoabackoff Aug 16 '11 at 22:50

6 Answers 6

up vote 0 down vote accepted

From the Wikipedia article on Mode:

In statistics, the mode is the value that occurs most frequently in a data set or a probability distribution. In some fields, notably education, sample data are often called scores, and the sample mode is known as the modal score.

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That is true, but this meaning is very tightly restricted to statistics. Unless the context is statistics few people would understand the word, even if they are familiar with the sense. –  Colin Fine Aug 16 '11 at 17:00
    
Modal makes sense if you're talking about numbers in a data set. Even in statistics the highest-probability outcome is usually called just that, not the mode. –  noa Aug 18 '11 at 1:02
    
Colin and noa: you are both right, but the OP did not specify the context and "modal" is a single word. Besides, the answer was accepted, so that was probably the word he was looking for. –  Otavio Macedo Aug 18 '11 at 1:32

OP is not alone in thinking commonest doesn't sound so good today. It used to be a perfectly common word, but over the last century most common has become much more common. But if OP is determined to have a single word, there's nothing to stop him using the older form.

enter image description here

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it used to be commonest, but now it's less common –  Matt Эллен Aug 17 '11 at 10:12
    
where is this graph from? –  romaninsh Aug 20 '11 at 16:19
    
@romaninsh: Just added a link to the Google NGram chart –  FumbleFingers Aug 20 '11 at 16:26

Depending on how you plan to use it, "representative" could work.

Another word that might be used is "ubiquitous." Its meaning is slightly different but can be used in a similar way.

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There are quite a few choices to pick from for single words: commonly, customarily and regularly all come to mind.

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i appreciate the ideas, but i need something that specifically identifies the most frequent. –  aaronstacy Aug 16 '11 at 15:15

rampant is a word you can use as frequently occuring

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Could you provide us with an example or two using as many words as you wish so the context becomes clearer. "Most common" is used about a hundred times more frequently than "commonest" nowadays. –  Michael Owen Sartin Nov 14 '13 at 1:20

Depending on the context, maybe "prevalent".

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This would have to be "most prevalent", though, to match OP's "most frequent". Also, could you provide usage examples/definitions that demonstrate its appropriateness for the OP's needs? This would strengthen your answer. –  nxx Mar 13 at 19:55

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