pub·​li·​can ˈpə-bli-kən How to pronounce publican (audio)
: a Jewish tax collector for the ancient Romans
: a collector of taxes or tribute
chiefly British : the licensee of a public house

Examples of publican in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One popular activity was taking selfies with Wayne Jones, the Turf Hotel’s publican, a touring member of the summer jolly. Amos Barshad, New York Times, 16 Aug. 2023 The mystifying rejection weighs heavily on Pádraic at the bar, where questions about his friend’s absence from the publican, Jonjo (Pat Shortt), rub salt into the wound. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Sep. 2022 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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'publican.' 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 Anglo-French, from Latin publicanus tax farmer, from publicum public revenue, from neuter of publicus

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near publican

Cite this Entry

“Publican.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


pub·​li·​can ˈpəb-li-kən How to pronounce publican (audio)
: a tax collector for the ancient Romans

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