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

In fact, there is some documentary evidence that coastal whales once populated the area. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Romans May Have Hunted Whales to Extinction in Their Home Waters," 11 July 2018 As the fans populating the lower bowl of Petco Park rose for the seventh-inning stretch, two Dodgers pitchers were in motion. Andy Mccullough, latimes.com, "Kershaw continues to make progress on the mound in Dodgers' 8-2 win over the Padres," 10 July 2018 Among those directly affected will be the buyers and merchandise planners who decide which dresses, tops and pants should populate their stores’ inventory. New York Times, "High-Skilled White-Collar Work? Machines Can Do That, Too," 7 July 2018 Like the humans populating restaurants, cottages, and houses near the coast, great whites appreciate warm water and ready access to food. John R. Ellement, BostonGlobe.com, "There have been 7 shark sightings in 2 days on the Cape — and more are expected," 3 July 2018 Renaissance Faire Elves, fairies, orcs, goblins, animal-kin and dwarves populate the Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Faire, which continues June 30 and July 1 and July 7 and 8 at Warsaw Park, 119 Pulaski Highway, Ansonia. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Things To Do This Week," 25 June 2018 Tyler writes with enormous warmth about all her characters but reserves her deepest affection for people who work with their hands (frequently for minimum wage) and who populate communities that are down on their luck but determined to get by. Mary Carole Mccauley, baltimoresun.com, "Anne Tyler's latest novel evokes Hamilton. Here are possible real-life stand-ins for locations in 'Clock Dance'," 13 July 2018 Singaporean star Han is one of the many Asian actors who populate the film, which is clearly fashioned to appeal as much to Chinese filmgoers as American ones, though their roles are largely peripheral. Jake Coyle, Detroit Free Press, "Review: ‘Skyscraper’ delivers stunts, dumb summer fun," 12 July 2018 Finebaum’s show and the cast of characters who populate its orbit are one of the few remaining connections between an increasingly sterile, personality-defunct league and its colorful, blue-collar fan base. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Paul Finebaum's potential departure is biggest storyline in the SEC as media day nears," 10 July 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

16 Sep 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).


the setting in which something occurs

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