late 14c., from O.Fr. communité, from L. communitatem (nom. communitas) "community, fellowship," from communis "common, public, general, shared by all or many," (see common
). L. communitatem "was merely a noun of quality ... meaning 'fellowship, community of relations
or feelings,' but in med.L. it was, like universitas, used concretely in the sense of 'a body of fellows or fellow-townsmen' " [OED]. An O.E. word for "community" was gemænscipe "community, fellowship, union, common ownership," probably composed from the same PIE roots as communis. Community service as a criminal sentence is recorded from 1972, Amer.Eng. Community college is recorded from 1959.