pop·​u·​lous ˈpä-pyə-ləs How to pronounce populous (audio)
: densely populated
: having a large population
: filled to capacity
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 The motion, which specifically asks a judge to tap independent outside prosecutors to handle hearings for a possible retrial in a carjacking case, marks escalated controversy within Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction over how its longest-serving judge as of late last year made the job switch. Dan Morse, Washington Post, 9 Sep. 2023 Large companies and populous communities are capable of bearing these costs. Larry Irving, Fortune, 6 Sep. 2023 Maricopa County, which contains Phoenix and more than two dozen other cities, towns, and tribal communities, is now the fourth most populous county in the United States. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2023 Tigray is one of 11 administrative regions in Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country. Catherine Nicholls, CNN, 4 Sep. 2023 Last month, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital and most populous city, evacuated non-emergency government personnel and the family members of diplomats. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, 31 Aug. 2023 Ian came ashore in the populous Lee County, home to the city of Fort Myers. Alyssa Lukpat, WSJ, 30 Aug. 2023 Central America’s most populous country and the region’s largest economy continues to struggle with poverty and violence that have driven hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans to migrate to the U.S. Voting appeared to have been peaceful. Sonia Pérez D. and Christopher Sherman, Anchorage Daily News, 21 Aug. 2023 Data gathered by the Associated Press show at least 14 of the 20 most populous US cities are hosting or starting such programs, sometimes called civilian, alternative, or non-police response teams. Jennifer Peltz and Jesse Bedayn, BostonGlobe.com, 28 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'populous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Latin populosus, from populus people

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near populous

Cite this Entry

“Populous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/populous. Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


pop·​u·​lous ˈpäp-yə-ləs How to pronounce populous (audio)
: having a large population
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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