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Published:May 16th, 2012 10:48 EST
What is The Common Denominator?

What is The Common Denominator?

By Keith Johnson

The SOP Word of the Day: Common Denominator 

A common denominator is the common multiple of the denominations of a number or fraction. At the same time, this is also a common trait or theme in a given context. Let us take the numbers four, ten, and twelve.

The common denomination between these three numbers is two because you can divide four, ten, and twelve all by two. Let us consider the numbers twenty-five and thirty. One is even and the other is odd. However, both can be divided by five. So, the common denominator between these two numbers is five. Regarding the second definition of this word - a common trait - this is similar but used in a more conceptual way.

For example, if you go to Wall Street and look at an accountant, lawyer, investment manager, and trader from that market sector, you can say something like "Money is the common denominator here - they are all chasing the dollar, that is what these guys do".

If you go to California and to a major boardwalk, you can say "the common denominator here is the beach - everyone from all parts of the world come here to enjoy the California beaches."


Keith Johnson, M.S. Education

Senior Technical Writer & Author

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA

"365 Amazing Writing Tips"