pop·​u·​late | \ ˈpä-pyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce populate (audio) \
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



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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 If 2020 saw an abundance of caution give way to a tentative and at times uneven return to play, 2021 will be a bridge year — a bridge, hopefully, to full-time normalcy for the athletes in our arenas and the fans who hope to populate them. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "When in 2021 will pro, college and youth sports return to normal?," 31 Dec. 2020 That $500 gamble paid off for Chapman, who was looking for graduate students to populate the Geophysical Institute. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, "Over 6 decades in Alaska, this contrarian geophysicist has left an indelible mark on aurora studies and Arctic research," 28 Nov. 2020 By the 1930s and 1940s, wolves were eradicated everywhere else south of the Canadian border, aside from a handful that crossed an ice sheet to populate Michigan’s Isle Royale. Greg Stanley, Star Tribune, "Why is Minn. the only mainland state with an abundance of wolves?," 27 Nov. 2020 Color-conscious casting refers to the practice of looking for performers from different races to populate a stage production. Matthew J. Palm, orlandosentinel.com, "‘I might lose my mind’: Do theater stages accurately represent Central Florida’s diversity?," 16 Nov. 2020 At the rear is a sitting area the theater hopes to populate with live music next spring. Doug George, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago’s Theatre Y plans a bold move: A campus in North Lawndale with members of the ensemble moving with the theater," 14 Dec. 2020 People will also seek to populate their social media feeds with photos and videos of themselves in unique and exciting environments. Abigail De Kosnik, Wired, "2021 Will Launch the Platinum Age of Piracy," 12 Dec. 2020 The information collected by Gaia also allowed astronomers a glimpse at the stars that populate two of the Milky Way's companion galaxies, the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Gaia space observatory maps nearly 2 billion stars in Milky Way galaxy," 3 Dec. 2020 National results will begin to populate on Tuesday afternoon. Chronicle Digital Team, SFChronicle.com, "Video: Watch 2020 live election coverage," 3 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for populate

Time Traveler

The first known use of populate was in 1578

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Statistics for populate

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Populate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/populate. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for populate


How to pronounce populate (audio)

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 How to pronounce populate (audio) \
populated; populating

Kids Definition of populate

1 : to live in : inhabit
2 to provide with inhabitants

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Comments on populate

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