Meaning of PUBLIC in English

I. ˈpəblik, -lēk adjective

Etymology: Middle English publique, from Middle French public, publique, from Latin publicus, probably alteration (influenced by puber, pubes grown up, adult) of poplicus, from populus people + -icus -ic — more at puberty , people


a. : of, relating to, or affecting the people as an organized community : civic , national

public affairs

public holiday

public authority exists primarily to regulate … social and economic life — M.S.Kendrick

— compare public law

b. : of or relating to the international community or to mankind in general : common , universal

public philosophy has … always been a political ideology — H.J.Morgenthau

c. : authorized or administered by or acting for the people as a political entity : government

public expenditures

public subsidy

public agency

public prosecutor

d. : provided for, used by, or containing the records of a government agency

the post office and other public buildings

public documents

2. Britain : of, relating to, or representing a university as a whole rather than one of its colleges or departments

the office of … public Orator — Cambridge University Cal.


a. : of or relating to business or community interests as opposed to private affairs : social , impersonal

public mortality

leading from these private confessions of his poetry … toward a more public form of expression — Hans Meyerhoff

b. : of, relating to, or in the service of the community or nation

an eminent figure in public life

housewives volunteering for public work in charitable institutions

specifically : holding political office

public official

c. : devoted to the general or national welfare : patriotic , humanitarian

debt the legal profession … owe to the publishers for their public spirit in producing these records — Norman Birkett

all Greek thinkers were public men — C.P.Rodocanachi


a. : accessible to or shared by all members of the community

public hearing

public park

public water supply

tourist passengers enjoy 16 public rooms aboard the magnificent new … flagship — New York Times

b. : supported by or for the benefit of the people as a whole

public education

public welfare agencies

c. : common 2d

d. : of, by, for, or directed to the people : general , popular

public sentiment

public spokesman

public address

a book which increases public awareness — E.S.Furniss b. 1918

effective use of the property in the public interest — C.V.Shields

philanthropic activities keep him in the public eye

e. : providing services to the people on a business basis under some degree of civic or state control

wrote with force on … railroads as public agents — W.C.Ford

right of women to smoke in restaurants and other public places — Frances Perkins


a. : exposed to general view : conspicuous , open

a rather too public affair with another woman — William Sansom

b. : well-known , prominent

stage stars and public figures — James Dowdall

c. : of an observable or perceptible nature : external , material

belief in tables and chairs existing as public … objects independently of his sense impressions of them — F.S.C.Northrop

the conventional or public aspect of language can encroach upon the … symbolical aspect — R.M.Weaver

II. noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English publique, from publique, adjective

1. : a place accessible or visible to all members of the community — usually used in the phrase in public

resent the … attempt to usurp in private the authority she could never assert in public — Edith Wharton


a. : an organized body of people : community , nation

the western European statesmen and publics alike seem equally agreed that the slightest infringement of their national sovereignty is … abhorrent — Patrick McMahon

b. : the people as a whole : populace , masses

the public … in many cities have become apathetic to hit-and-run accidents — Ray Ashworth

3. : a group of people distinguished by common interests or characteristics

protecting movie stars from their publics — New Yorker

two books … different in scope, and aimed at different publics — T.G.Bergin

places before farmers, homemakers, and the rural public information on currently important agricultural situations — U.S. Govt. Manual

4. Britain : public house

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.