peo·​ple | \ˈpē-pəl \
plural people

Definition of people 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1  plural : human beings making up a group or assembly or linked by a common interest

2  plural : human beings, persons often used in compounds instead of persons salespeople often used attributively people skills

3  plural : the members of a family or kinship

4  plural : the mass of a community as distinguished from a special class disputes between the people and the nobles often used by Communists to distinguish Communists from other people

5 plural peoples : a body of persons that are united by a common culture, tradition, or sense of kinship, that typically have common language, institutions, and beliefs, and that often constitute a politically organized group

6 : lower animals usually of a specified kind or situation

7 : the body of enfranchised citizens of a state


peopled; peopling\ ˈpē-​p(ə-​)liŋ \

Definition of people (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to supply or fill with people

2 : to dwell in : inhabit

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Other Words from people


peopleless \ ˈpē-​pə(l)-​ləs \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for people

Synonyms: Verb

colonize, populate, settle

Antonyms: Verb


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Examples of people in a Sentence


People can be really cruel sometimes. People think the coach should be fired. She tends to annoy people. People say it's impossible, but I'm still going to try. a book for young people a people who migrated across the Bering Strait the native peoples of Mexico


a science-fiction novel about a mission to people Mars
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This past spring, an outbreak of E. coli traced to romaine lettuce made more than 200 people sick and killed five. Maggie Fox /, NBC News, "61 sick in parasite outbreak linked to McDonald's salads," 14 July 2018 The Department of Homeland Security has reassigned an additional 230 people in order to comply with the court’s ruling, according to Azar, as reported by USA Today. Sarah Kinosian, Teen Vogue, "Reunification Proves Complicated for Families Separated at the U.S.-Mexico Border," 14 July 2018 The other is that those innovative companies must be led by people intimately familiar with what is happening on the frontlines of care: doctors, nurses, and others who directly care for patients. Alexi Nazem, STAT, "Health care needs more physician CEOs like Atul Gawande," 13 July 2018 The largest site will be at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, where 2,400 people are expected to participate. Anthony Barcellos, sacbee, "How Big Sing California aims to bring joy to six cities and 10,000 performers," 13 July 2018 Like the Park, the concerts are free—a gift to the city’s people. The New Yorker, "In Central Park, Naumburg Orchestral Concerts Are a Gift to the City," 13 July 2018 Price represented a comfortable suburban Atlanta district during his years in Congress, but people there don’t usually drive around throwing dollar bills out the window. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Auditor: Tom Price Owes Government $341,000 for Unauthorized Travel Expenses," 13 July 2018 Trans people and allies condemned the casting announcement across social media. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Scarlett Johansson won’t play a trans man after all.," 13 July 2018 Of course, some people love to eat sushi every day, but that’s really not recommended for anyone because of the high mercury levels, Dr. Ruiz says. Korin Miller, SELF, "Hilary Duff May Have Eaten Sushi While Pregnant and Everyone Needs to Chill Out About It," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Yeah, this has been sort of an area peopled by a lot of big competitors; Symantec, and others, over the years. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Nobody trusts Facebook anymore. Here’s one way it could change that.," 15 Oct. 2018 Even the fictional world was peopled with powerhouse women: Murphy Brown, Buffy, and Khadijah James in Living Single, to name a few. Rhaina Cohen, The New Republic, "What the 1990s Got Wrong," 29 June 2018 The handsome two-bedroom apartment functions as a shrine to a different New York, a different Hollywood: when movies were about silver screens, not touch-screens; when those who peopled them were stars, not celebrities. Alex Williams, New York Times, "Rex Reed Bangs a Gong on the Mediocrity of Modern Life," 10 Jan. 2018 These stories are funny and moving and peopled by Southern characters grappling with privilege, tradition, and stasis. Caroline Rogers, Southern Living, "10 Books by Southern Writers We Bet You Haven’t Read Yet," 29 June 2018 Detroit’s history is peopled with great names, from Judge Woodward and Chief Pontiac to Walter Reuther and Coleman A. Young. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit train station is city's biggest comeback moment yet," 15 June 2018 Prosecutors said a key participant in the effort to whitewash Manafort’s lobbying work was his longtime associate in Ukraine, a person who people familiar with the matter identified as Konstantin Kilimnik. David Voreacos,, "Mueller Plays Hardball With Manafort, Sending a Message to Others," 5 June 2018 Years of dust cover the vista of train tracks, railroad stations, village stores and tiny figures peopling the miniature landscape. Kathy Routliffe,, "Miniature railroad world in Frazier Thomas' former Wilmette basement in need of a new home," 14 May 2018 Its stories would be peopled with renowned chefs, artists, and other luminaries. Joan Walden,, "Property of the Week: 1093 Prospect Avenue, West Hartford," 5 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'people.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of people


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for people


Middle English peple, from Anglo-French pople, peple, peuple, from Latin populus


Middle English, from Anglo-French popler, poeplier, from pople

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Statistics for people

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for people

The first known use of people was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for people



English Language Learners Definition of people

of people : to live or be in (a place)

: to put people in (something, such as a story)


peo·​ple | \ˈpē-pəl \
plural people or peoples

Kids Definition of people

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : all persons considered together “Love makes people act crazy.”— Pam Zollman, Don't Bug Me!

2 : a group of human beings who have something in common young people the people of Montana

Hint: The word people is often used in compounds instead of persons.
  • salespeople

3 : a body of persons making up a race, tribe, or nation the peoples of Asia


peopled; peopling

Kids Definition of people (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to fill with human beings or a certain type of human beings … her little world was peopled with imaginary friends …— Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

2 : to dwell on or in Farmers people this part of the state.

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Comments on people

What made you want to look up people? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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