pub·​li·​can | \ ˈpə-bli-kən How to pronounce publican (audio) \

Definition of publican

1a : a Jewish tax collector for the ancient Romans
b : a collector of taxes or tribute
2 chiefly British : the licensee of a public house

Examples of publican in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In British usage, a publican is someone who owns a pub. Julie Carr Smyth,, 27 Feb. 2021 In the kitchen there was Rob, the publican, who had basically given up cooking, and Andy, a northerner who was miserable and really the guy in charge of the kitchen. Dan Hunter, Bon Appetit, 5 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'publican.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of publican

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for publican

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin publicanus tax farmer, from publicum public revenue, from neuter of publicus

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The first known use of publican was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near publican

public affairs


public assistance

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Cite this Entry

“Publican.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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