pop·​u·​lous | \ ˈpä-pyə-ləs How to pronounce populous (audio) \

Definition of populous

1a : densely populated
b : having a large population
2a : numerous
b : filled to capacity

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Other Words from populous

populously adverb
populousness noun

Did You Know?

With a metropolitan area of more than 20 million people, Mexico City could be called the world's second or third most populous city. And the nearby Aztec city of Tenochtitlán was one of the largest cities in the world even when Hernán Cortés arrived there in 1519. But by the time Cortés conquered the city in 1521 it wasn't nearly so populous, since European diseases had greatly reduced the population. Avoid confusing populous and populace, which are pronounced exactly the same.

Examples of populous in a Sentence

the most populous state in the U.S.

Recent Examples on the Web

In fact, these are no ordinary elections for Central America's most populous nation. Jack Guy, CNN, "Claims of corruption, drug trafficking and political divorce. Welcome to Guatemala's elections," 25 June 2019 The report also goes on to highlight that the disparity in birth rates among populous nations will alter their ranking by size. Sangeeta Tanwar, Quartz India, "India may have curbed its fertility rate, but it is still too high," 19 June 2019 Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation — faces security threats throughout the country, with Islamist insurgencies persisting in the northeast as clashes continue to the south between farmers and herders. Washington Post, "Suicide bombers kill at least 30 in northeastern Nigeria," 17 June 2019 The world's most populous nation is building more aircraft carriers, more amphibious ships, and more modern combat aircraft than ever before. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Does America Still Need the Nuclear Triad?," 23 Jan. 2019 Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, is a strong supporter of the Rohingya cause. Iskandar Ishak, The Seattle Times, "Indonesia rescues 20 Muslim Rohingya adrift off Aceh," 4 Dec. 2018 All of the populous nations mentioned also occupy huge areas. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Why the world's biggest countries fail with the World Cup," 8 July 2018 The experience led Unuabonah to become a leader in a growing movement to combat academic plagiarism in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and home to more than 150 public and private universities and colleges. Linda Nordling, Science | AAAS, "In Nigeria, a battle against academic plagiarism heats up," 27 June 2018 Data, computing power, and competent engineers—all of which favor the world’s most populous nation. Clay Chandler, Fortune, "Why China Has An Edge In the A.I. Arms Race," 25 June 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for populous

Middle English, from Latin populosus, from populus people

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Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for populous

The first known use of populous was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for populous



English Language Learners Definition of populous

formal : having a large population


pop·​u·​lous | \ ˈpä-pyə-ləs How to pronounce populous (audio) \

Kids Definition of populous

: having a large population a populous city

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More from Merriam-Webster on populous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for populous

Spanish Central: Translation of populous

Nglish: Translation of populous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of populous for Arabic Speakers

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