Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An elementary or secondary school in the United States supported by public funds and providing free education for children of a community or district.
  • n. A private boarding school in Great Britain for pupils between the ages of 13 and 18.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A fee-charging private or independent school.
  • n. A publicly administered school.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • In Great Britain, any of various schools maintained by the community, wholly or partly under public control, or maintained largely by endowment and not carried on chiefly for profit; specif., and commonly, any of various select and usually expensive endowed schools which give a liberal modern education or prepare pupils for the universities. Eton, Harrow, Rugby, and Winchester are of this class.
  • In the United States, a free primary, grammar, or high school maintained by the local government.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a tuition free school in the United States supported by taxes and controlled by a school board
  • n. private independent secondary school in Great Britain supported by endowment and tuition

Etymologies

From public (in the English sense, "open to all members of a community"; in the North American/Australian sense, "carried out or funded by the state on behalf of the people") + school. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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