Learn English – What does “to be the lowest common denominator” mean?


I'm not English and I never encountered this saying:

In almost all cases, it is possible and within reason to write
completely portable code.

In practice, this means that you shouldn’t assume much about the host
compiler (and Visual Studio tends to be the lowest common

What's the meaning of the "to be the lowest common denominator" in a sentence? That it is a concept that applies for all or something else?

Also: I'm not sure this question answers my problem, I read it but couldn't figure out the above sentence appropriately

Best Answer

In math, fractions can be converted to other equivalent fractions:

1/2 = 3/6 = 6/12

In each case the denominator (the bottom number) changes, but maintains the same proportional relationship to the numerator (the upper number).

To add two fractions that have different denominators, you need to convert them to equivalents that have the same denominator. For example,

1/3 + 1/2 = 2/6 + 3/6 = 5/6

In the above case, 6 is the lowest common denominator for both 1/3 and 1/2. There are other possible denominators, such as 12, but 6 is the lowest.

This concept has been carried over to non-mathematical fields. In that context, the lowest common denominator generally means the simplest thing that all involved parties have in common that can accomplish a goal.

Consider an example in which several parties are fluent in various languages, but none of them speak the others' native language. However they all speak a little Esperanto. While they might get by with numerous translations of other languages, each language being understood by a few participants, Esperanto is the lowest common denominator.