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?

  • 1
    It might depend on the context, but "commonest" doesn't sound ridiculous to me. Aug 16, 2011 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. Aug 16, 2011 at 15:28
  • What's wrong with common? Aug 16, 2011 at 22:50

7 Answers 7


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.

  • 2
    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, 2011 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. Aug 18, 2011 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. Aug 18, 2011 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.

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  • 1
    it used to be commonest, but now it's less common Aug 17, 2011 at 10:12
  • where is this graph from?
    – romaninsh
    Aug 20, 2011 at 16:19
  • @romaninsh: Just added a link to the Google NGram chart Aug 20, 2011 at 16:26
  • @MattE.Эллен perhaps you wanted to finish that comment with "commonleast"...
    – Armfoot
    Dec 21, 2015 at 17:42

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.


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

  • i appreciate the ideas, but i need something that specifically identifies the most frequent.
    – aaronstacy
    Aug 16, 2011 at 15:15

rampant is a word you can use as frequently occuring

  • 1
    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. Nov 14, 2013 at 1:20

Depending on the context, maybe "prevalent".

  • 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, 2014 at 19:55

The other answers citing "common" or "prevalent" make sense, even without adding "most". If something is the prevalent method, then it is automatically the most prevalent method. The word "most" doesn't add any additional information, so may be removed.

On the other hand, if something is a prevalent method, then there may be more than one prevalent methods. So make sure you use "the" rather than "a".

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