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


depopulate, unpeople

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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

Probiotics are meant to encourage diversity in the microbiota populating the intestine, which helps to process the nutrients in food. Mackenzie Wagoner, Vogue, "What’s the Best Way to Cleanse? A Guide to Detoxing in 2019," 1 Jan. 2019 Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance is working alongside the city and the Knight Foundation to bring business back to the Kenmore business district by boosting walkability and bikeability while populating empty storefronts. Jennifer Conn, Akron Reporter, cleveland.com, "Kenmore Boulevard revitalization underway through zoning updates, infrastructure improvements," 30 Apr. 2018 Copoulos-selle is a painter and printmaker who creates dreamy and vibrant landscapes populated by everyday people, according to a press release. Hannah Kirby, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Looking to enjoy some music out on the town? Check out Friday Night Live in downtown Waukesha this summer.," 25 June 2018 This data makes its way into a complex ecosystem populated by data brokers, data analytics companies and advertising networks. John Rothchild, Scientific American, "New European Rules May Give US Internet Users True Privacy Choices for the First Time," 15 June 2018 Many of the families torn apart come from El Salvador, my mother’s birth country, the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. Christy Turlington Burns, Marie Claire, "Christy Turlington Burns' Immigration Story," 13 Aug. 2018 Israel, a tiny, arid country that is home to more than 8 billion people, is also among the most densely populated in the world. Shira Rubin, USA TODAY, "The Middle East's first natural history museum is designed like Noah's Ark," 29 June 2018 Craig plays her neighbor — the only white man living in the neighborhood populated by all minorities. Ale Russian, PEOPLE.com, "Halle Berry and Daniel Craig Face Racial Tensions of 1992 L.A. Riots in Kings Scene," 26 Apr. 2018 Yet Cuyahoga County, which is smaller in area than Franklin County, remains far more densely populated. Rich Exner, cleveland.com, "Cuyahoga County No. 3 nationally in population loss last year, new census estimates say," 21 Mar. 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

18 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for populate

The first known use of populate was in 1578

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More Definitions for populate



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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More from Merriam-Webster on populate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with populate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for populate

Spanish Central: Translation of populate

Nglish: Translation of populate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of populate for Arabic Speakers

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).


a servile follower or underling

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