A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically, it has sometimes been synonymous with "republic". The noun "commonwealth", meaning "public welfare, general good or advantage", dates from the 15th century.[1] Originally a phrase (the common-wealth or the common wealth – echoed in the modern synonym "public wealth"), it comes from the old meaning of "wealth", which is "well-being", and is itself a loose translation of the Latin res publica (republic).[2] The term literally meant "common well-being". In the 17th century, the definition of "commonwealth" expanded from its original sense of "public welfare" or "commonweal" to mean "a state in which the supreme power is vested in the people; a republic or democratic state".[3][4]

The term evolved to become a title to a number of political entities. Three countries – Australia, The Bahamas, and Dominica – have the official title "Commonwealth", as do four U.S. states and two U.S. territories. Since the early 20th century, the term has been used to name some fraternal associations of states, most notably the Commonwealth of Nations, an organisation primarily of former territories of the British Empire. The organisation is not to be confused with the realms of the Commonwealth.