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 In particular, many female staff complained about being directed to work in areas primarily populated with men. Brooke Baitinger, sun-sentinel.com, "Employees felt forced to work in shelters during Hurricane Dorian, no matter the circumstances," 8 Nov. 2019 The ambitious Ocean X team is looking to expand its territories into Panama, where an island chain populated with indigenous people offers rich wreck-diving potential. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Divers Salvage 100-Year-Old Liquor from WWI Shipwreck," 7 Nov. 2019 Nearly the entirety of John’s September shows populate the Top Boxscores listing, with six of seven engagements in the top 30. Eric Frankenberg, Billboard, "Elton John's 'Road' Leads Back to No. 1: September Boxscore Recap," 31 Oct. 2019 Powered faces, burgundy lips, and bobbed wigs populated the space. Vogue, "Artist Tali Lennox Celebrated the End of Her Show With a Dinner Evoking Weimar-Era Indulgence," 28 Oct. 2019 Coffee culture in Los Angeles — indeed, across America — shows no sign of slowing, with new cafes opening seemingly every day, populating every last pocket from the city to the Valley and beyond. Jordan Michelman, Los Angeles Times, "Go Get Em Tiger, L.A.’s burgeoning coffee franchise, is serving up one of the city’s best cheeseburgers," 23 Oct. 2019 But at least there, there are fans—thousands of them—populating the bleachers. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "Mailbag: What Should We Make of Serena's Recent Struggles in Finals?," 2 Oct. 2019 Besides being the least populated county in Texas, Loving has long enjoyed having the highest per capita income. John Maccormack, ExpressNews.com, "Oil boom hits remote Loving County," 26 Sep. 2019 Long hours, sweating, freezing, waiting — interminable waiting — building fictional worlds between set-ups, universes held together with comedy, populated with unlikely idiots with bizarre motivations. Breanne L. Heldman, PEOPLE.com, "Chicago Fire's Yuriy Sardarov Speaks Out About His Departure: 'The Greatest 7 Years of My Life'," 26 Sep. 2019

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 2019

Time Traveler for populate

The first known use of populate was in 1578

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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

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


to engage in dissolute behavior

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