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

The temptation to suggest that people’s views are a product of their skin colour, gender or sexuality is bad enough. The Economist, "What’s left?To win back power, Democrats must do things that make them uncomfortable," 14 July 2018 Tragically, 431 children died in this type of accident between 2000 and 2016, according to a 2017 CPSC report, but older people aren’t immune. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Emergency Responders Share 9 of the Biggest Death Traps in Your Home," 14 July 2018 When the tech isn’t, people are surprised—and scared. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "Home From the Honeymoon, the Self-Driving Car Industry Faces Reality," 13 July 2018 And the runways were filled with all these fantastic people from all over the world. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Dianne Benson, A Maverick Retailer in 1980s New York, Talks Fashion, Art, and Collaborators Like David Wojnarowicz and Cindy Sherman," 13 July 2018 Then, there are the people who go to Blockbuster but don't even come inside. Annie Zak, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska’s last 2 Blockbuster stores are closing, leaving just one in the U.S.," 13 July 2018 Like me, they are fed up with people who presume to speak for the disabled., "How John Callahan Used His Disability To Fuel Fearlessly Funny Cartoons," 13 July 2018 There are those people on Twitter who are super negative and have no reason to be. Staff,, "Weekend Read: Meet the 'Adopted Son' of NBA Summer League, Astroball's Release and More," 13 July 2018 As with all things Kardashian-Jenner, people were not afraid to share their opinions about this online. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Kylie Jenner Pierced 5-Month-Old Stormi's Ears, and People Have a Lot of Feelings About It," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Cody is able to hold an audience’s interest simply by creating a situation and peopling it with a handful of vivid and appealing characters. Mick Lasalle, Houston Chronicle, "Review: ‘Tully’ is mixed results for Jason Reitman, Diablo Cody and Charlize Theron reunion," 4 May 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

17 Sep 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).


characteristic trappings or dress

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