pop·​u·​late | \ˈpä-pyə-ˌlāt \
populated; populating

Definition of populate 

transitive verb

1 : to have a place in : occupy, inhabit

2a : to furnish or provide with inhabitants : people

b : to provide with members

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Synonyms & Antonyms for populate


colonize, people, settle



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Examples of populate in a Sentence

Immigrants began to populate the area in the late 19th century. Strange creatures populate the ocean depths.

Recent Examples on the Web

But Trump got to Washington by promising to unmake the political ecosystem, eradicating the existing species and populating it anew. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, "Trump vs. the “Deep State”," 14 May 2018 Robinson relaxes the farce into drawing-room comedy and populates it with passably clever people who have much deeper concerns than the strategic deployment of bons mots. Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader, "A new production of An Ideal Husband humanizes Oscar Wilde," 13 Apr. 2018 Everyday heroes populate this landscape, many of them Muslim – that is, regular observant Muslims, not the twisted fundamentalist version that Daesh promulgates. Elizabeth Toohey, The Christian Science Monitor, "Poet and Iraqi exile Dunya Mikhail's book 'The Beekeeper' serves as testimony for the victims of ISIS," 29 Mar. 2018 The backyard, a grassy space populated with palms, is taken in from an upper balcony. Jack Flemming, latimes.com, "Backstreet Boys’ AJ McLean eyes a home sale in Westlake Village," 11 July 2018 More scattered showers and storms populate the area Friday night with muggy lows in the lower to middle 70s. Matt Rogers, Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: Cloudy and humid with a chance of showers that builds through tomorrow," 29 May 2018 With the new service, Alphabet Inc.’s Google will dive deeper into a space already populated with other heavyweight players. Wsj Staff, WSJ, "YouTube to Launch New Music-Streaming Service Tuesday," 17 May 2018 About one quarter of Mongolians still live a traditional nomadic life in the Central Asian country sandwiched between Russia and China which has four times the land mass of Germany but is thinly-populated with about 3 million people. Max Baring, The Christian Science Monitor, "Mongolian herders leave nomadic lifestyle for the city," 3 May 2018 Its landscape is dotted with country houses, barns and stretches of wilderness populated with deer, foxes and hawks. Rick Rojas, New York Times, "Once a Getaway Where Bunnies Frolicked, Now a ‘Black Hole’," 8 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'populate.' 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 populate

1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for populate

Medieval Latin populatus, past participle of populare to people, from Latin populus people

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Statistics for populate

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for populate

The first known use of populate was in 1578

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English Language Learners Definition of populate

: to live in (a country, city, area, etc.) : to make up the population of (a place)


pop·​u·​late | \ˈpä-pyə-ˌlāt \
populated; populating

Kids Definition of populate

1 : to live in : inhabit

2 to provide with inhabitants

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Comments on populate

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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