Meaning of PEOPLE in English

I. peo ‧ ple 1 S1 W1 /ˈpiːp ə l/ BrE AmE noun

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: peuple , from Latin populus ; ⇨ ↑ popular ]

1 . PERSONS [plural] used as the plural of ‘person’ to refer to men, women, and children:

How many people were at the meeting?

At least 40 people were killed.

the people who live next door

2 . PEOPLE IN GENERAL [plural] people in general, or people other than yourself:

I don’t care what people think.

People can be really mean sometimes.

theatre/business etc people (=people who work or are involved in the theatre etc)

The hotel was full of business people.

3 . COUNTRY/RACE [countable also + plural verb] the people who belong to a particular country, race, or area

the British/American etc people

He pledged that he would never lie to the American people.

people of

the Basques, a people of northwestern Spain

the peoples of Europe

4 . the people [plural]

a) all the ordinary people in a country or a state, not the government or ruling class:

The people rebelled.

Rice formed the staple food of the common people.

The party try to portray the prime minister as a man of the people (=someone in power who understands or is like ordinary people) .

the people’s party/army etc (=belonging to or popular with the ordinary people)

the People’s Liberation Army

Diana – the people’s princess

b) American English used in court cases to represent the government of the US or of a particular state:

The People vs. Romero

5 . sb’s people [plural]

a) the people that a king or leader rules or leads:

The king ordered his people to prepare for war.

b) the people who work for a person or organization:

A manager’s job is to make his or her people feel part of the system.

c) old-fashioned your relatives, especially your parents, grandparents etc:

Do your people live round here?

6 . of all people spoken used to say that someone is the person you would least or most expect to do something:

Why should he, of all people, get a promotion?

You of all people should have known better.

7 . TO GET ATTENTION [plural] American English spoken informal used to get the attention of a group of people:

Listen up, people!

⇨ ↑ little people

• • •


▪ people people in general:

Most people know that smoking causes lung cancer.


People are the same everywhere.

▪ folk informal people:

Louisa's parents were country folk and believed very much in herbal remedies.


They looked like two ordinary folk.


There are still folk around here who remember the old days.

▪ the public ordinary people, not people who belong to the government or are members of a particular company or organization:

This information should be made available to the public.

▪ population all the people who live in a particular area:

The majority of the population were farmers.


The city has a population of 11 million.

▪ the human race all the people in the world, considered as a group:

the origins of the human race

▪ mankind ( also humankind ) people in general – used especially when talking about their history or development, or how something affects their existence. Some people think that the word mankind seems to make women seem unimportant, and prefer to use humankind instead:

Travelling into space was a great advance for mankind.

▪ populace formal the people who live in a country – a very formal use:

It is a country where 80% of the populace live in poverty.

II. people 2 BrE AmE verb [transitive usually passive] formal

1 . if a country or area is peopled by people of a particular type, they live there SYN inhabit

be peopled by/with somebody

an island peopled by hardy sea folk

2 . if a story or someone’s imagination is peopled by people of a particular type, it is full of them

be peopled by/with somebody

Her world was peopled with imaginary friends.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.