public

1 of 2

adjective

pub·​lic ˈpə-blik How to pronounce public (audio)
1
a
: exposed to general view : open
2
a
: of, relating to, or affecting all the people or the whole area of a nation or state
public law
b
: of or relating to a government
c
: of, relating to, or being in the service of the community or nation
3
a
: of or relating to people in general : universal
b
: of, by, for, or directed to the public (see public entry 2 sense 2) : popular
in the public eye
a campaign to raise public awareness of the issue
He's certainly aware that public opinion has soured on him this year …Bryan Rolli
4
: of or relating to business or community interests as opposed to private affairs : social
5
: devoted to the general or national welfare : humanitarian
6
a
: accessible to or shared by all members of the community
b
: capitalized in shares that can be freely traded on the open market
often used with go
7
: supported by public funds and private contributions rather than by income from commercials
public radio
public television
publicness noun

public

2 of 2

noun

plural publics
1
: a place accessible or visible to the public
usually used in the phrase in public
2
: the people as a whole : populace
3
: a group of people having common interests or characteristics
specifically : the group at which a particular activity or enterprise aims

Examples of public in a Sentence

Adjective Public outrage over the scandal eventually forced him to resign. The ads are intended to increase public awareness of the risks of smoking. She was elected to a public office. He was in Congress for many years but he recently retired from public life. They decided on a nearby restaurant as a convenient public place to meet. The government has allowed public access to the documents. The city council is holding a public meeting. This will be her first public performance in five years. Her trial will be public. Noun The beach is open to the public. The general public is in favor of the law. Members of the public called for the mayor's resignation.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Grief experts welcome this type of public healing, for both the bereaved and those watching who may learn something in the process. David Oliver, USA TODAY, 11 July 2024 The morning after a list of the stores targeted for sale was made public, customers filtered through the parking lot and into the store, many smiling at each other and the security guard. Caroline Petrow-Cohen, Los Angeles Times, 11 July 2024
Noun
Related article Angry and stunned Democrats blame Biden’s closest advisers for shielding public from full extent of president’s decline Of course, everyone knows intellectually that the president doesn’t control the economy. Allison Morrow, CNN, 12 July 2024 But public is not private — where loads of officials reeling from Biden’s debate performance and assessing poll numbers are concluding that November looks likely to be a bloodbath up and down the ticket unless something changes and changes soon. New York Daily News Editorial Board, New York Daily News, 12 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for public 

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

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English publique, from Anglo-French, from Latin publicus; akin to Latin populus people

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of public was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near public

Cite this Entry

“Public.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/public. Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

public

1 of 2 adjective
pub·​lic ˈpəb-lik How to pronounce public (audio)
1
a
: of, relating to, belonging to, or affecting all the people
public law
b
: provided by the government
public education
c
: relating to or engaged in the service of the community or nation
public life
2
: of or relating to community interests as opposed to private affairs
a radio program in the public interest
3
: devoted to the general welfare
needed leaders with public spirit
4
: open to or shared by all
a public meeting
the public library
5
a
: generally known
the story became public
b
: well-known
a public figure
6
: supported by income from public funds and private contributions rather than by commercials
public television
publicly adverb

public

2 of 2 noun
1
: a place open or visible to people
seen in public
2
: the people as a whole
a lecture open to the public
3
: a particular group of people
a writer's public
Etymology

Adjective

Middle English publique "relating to the people as a whole, public," from early French publique (same meaning), from Latin publicus "belonging to the people as a whole," from populus "the people" — related to popular, republic

Legal Definition

public

1 of 2 adjective
pub·​lic
1
a
: exposed to general view
public indecency
b
: known or recognized by many or most people
2
a
: of, relating to, or affecting all of the people or the whole area of a nation or state
public statutes
b
: of or relating to a government : authorized by, administered by, or acting for the people as a political entity
public expenditures
the public prosecutor
c
: of, relating to, or being in the service of the community or nation
holding public office
d
: provided for, used by, or containing the records of a government agency
the post office and other public buildings
3
: of or relating to people in general
4
: of or relating to business or community interests as opposed to private affairs
public policy
5
: devoted to the general or national welfare
6
: accessible to or shared by all members of the community
a public hearing
compare private
7
: capitalized in shares that can be freely traded on the open market
often used with go
publicly adverb

public

2 of 2 noun
1
: a place accessible or visible to the public
usually used in the phrase in public
2
: the people as a whole

More from Merriam-Webster on public

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