from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of, concerning, or affecting the community or the people.
  • adjective Maintained for or used by the people or community.
  • adjective Capitalized in shares of stock that can be traded on the open market.
  • adjective Participated in or attended by the people or community.
  • adjective Connected with or acting on behalf of the people, community, or government.
  • adjective Enrolled in or attending a public school.
  • adjective Open to the knowledge or judgment of all.
  • noun The community or the people as a whole.
  • noun A group of people sharing a common interest.
  • noun Admirers or followers, especially of a famous person.
  • idiom (go public with) To reveal to the public a previously unknown or secret piece of information.
  • idiom (in public) In such a way as to be visible to the scrutiny of the people.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of or belonging to the people at large; relating to or affecting the whole people of a state, nation, or community: opposed to private: as, the public good; public affairs; the public service; a public calamity; public opinion.
  • Open to all the people; shared in or to be shared or participated in or enjoyed by people at large; not limited or restricted to any particular class of the community: as, a public meeting; public worship; a public subscription; a public road; a public house; public baths.
  • Open to the view or knowledge of all; notorious: as, a public exposure; public scandal.
  • Regarding or directed to the interests of the community at large, and not limited or confined to private, personal, or selfish matters or interests: as, public spirit; a public benefaction.
  • Public house and public place are used in numerous statutes against immoral practices, gaming, prostitution, etc., with varying limitations of meaning, but generally implying a place to which any one may have access without trespassing.
  • Warehouses to which dutiable goods are sent for appraisement; bonded warehouses, or stores in which goods are held under bond for duty until sold or exported.
  • A use so intimately allied to or affecting the public welfare or convenience that the state may regulate it as to the management or charges: thus, the great grain-elevators of modern commerce, standing between the wharves of lake or ocean navigation and the termini of trunk lines of railway, have been held to be so affected with a public use that the state may regulate by law the rates of charges.
  • In patent law, use without restriction by one or more members of the community, as distinguished from use by the inventor: thus, an inventor of a secret spring who should allow its use by others without patenting it might be deemed to allow its public use, although, from its peculiarities of structure and relation, its use could not be seen by the public.
  • noun The general body of people constituting a nation, state, or community; the people, indefinitely: with the.
  • noun A public house.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The general body of mankind, or of a nation, state, or community; the people, indefinitely; ; also, a particular body or aggregation of people.
  • noun Scot. A public house; an inn.
  • noun openly; before an audience or the people at large; not in private or secrecy.
  • adjective Of or pertaining to the people; belonging to the people; relating to, or affecting, a nation, state, or community; -- opposed to private.
  • adjective Open to the knowledge or view of all; general; common; notorious
  • adjective Open to common or general use
  • adjective (Law) an act or statute affecting matters of public concern. Of such statutes the courts take judicial notice.
  • adjective See under Credit.
  • adjective See Fund, 3.
  • adjective an inn, or house of entertainment.
  • adjective A public act or statute.
  • adjective (Law) See under Nuisance.
  • adjective (Eng. Universities) See Orator, 3.
  • adjective military and naval stores, equipments, etc.
  • adjective all fixed works built by civil engineers for public use, as railways, docks, canals, etc.; but strictly, military and civil engineering works constructed at the public cost.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective of a company Traded publicly via a stock market.
  • noun The people in general, regardless of membership of any particular group.

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

  • noun a body of people sharing some common interest
  • noun people in general considered as a whole
  • adjective affecting the people or community as a whole
  • adjective not private; open to or concerning the people as a whole


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

[Middle English publik, from Old French public, from Latin pūblicus, alteration (influenced by pūbēs, adult population) of poplicus, from populus, people, of Etruscan origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman publik, public, Middle French public, publique et al., and their source, Latin pūblicus ("pertaining to the people"), alteration (probably after pubes ("adult men")) of populicus, from populus ("people"). Compare people.


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  • Quote: The current tent city, along the American River, has prompted concern by The American River Parkway Preservation Society, which has written on its blog: “If local government truly wishes to establish tent cities they need to be some place where the surrounding communities are not materially and criminogenically degraded — as the first call of public leadership is to *protect the public*.”

    Sacramento and Its Riverside Tent City - The Lede Blog - 2009

  • If AutoAdmit wasn't a public forum in the sense of its content being openly and freely available to the public*, what is?

    :D. Ann Althouse 2008

  • Certainly the best works and of greatest merit for the public have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men, which both in affection and means have married and endowed the public….

    Francis Bacon (1561-1626) 1989

  • Chalmers, at the end of his long life, having had much power with the public, being plagued in some serious matter by a reference to “public opinion, ” uttered the impatient exclamation, “The public is just a great baby!

    Sesame and Lilies. Lecture I.-Sesame: Of Kings’ Treasuries 1909

  • By the time he should find it out for himself the public -- _le gros public_ -- would have bitten, and then perhaps he would be conciliated and forgive.

    Embarrassments Henry James 1879

  • Well might he inquire, for this man, having combed his hair with a public comb, which was attached to the door-post by a string, and examined himself carefully in a bit of glass, about two inches in diameter, proceeded to cleanse his teeth with a _public tooth-brush_ which hung beside the comb.

    The Golden Dream Adventures in the Far West 1859

  • The motives which induced my acceptance are the same which ever ruled my decision when the public desire -- or, as my countrymen are pleased to denominate it, the _public good_ -- was placed in the scale against my personal enjoyments and private interest.

    Washington and the American Republic, Vol. 3. Benson John Lossing 1852

  • In Europe, therefore, these works, supposing the labour equally efficient, would have cost at least four times the sum here estimated; and such works formed by private individuals for the public good, without any view whatever to return in profits, indicates a very high degree of _public spirit_.

    The slave trade, domestic and foreign Why It Exists, and How It May Be Extinguished 1836

  • I understand why they have such devices on public transit vehicles, such as planes, and trains, and other things that are entrusted with * public* safety ...

    Autoblog Jonathon Ramsey 2010

  • _out-door relief_ was given _from the public funds_ to thirty-four thousand five hundred and seventy-two more -- making in all seventy-three thousand two hundred and sixty-four persons, or one out of every five, in the city of New York, dependent, more or less, on _public charity_.

    Cotton is King, and Pro-Slavery Arguments Comprising the Writings of Hammond, Harper, Christy, Stringfellow, Hodge, Bledsoe, and Cartrwright on This Important Subject E. N. [Editor] Elliott


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  • PUBlIC

    May 5, 2008

  • (Heard outside my office...)

    Police officer: "Hey! That's public property!"

    Little kid: "Aren't I part of the public?"

    May 15, 2008

  • HA!! That's priceless, whichbe! Did you go give the kid a dollar?

    May 15, 2008

  • A public man: a celebrity

    A public woman: a trollop.

    (see my list)

    June 13, 2008