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[fohk] /foʊk/
Usually, folks. (used with a plural verb) people in general:
Folks say there wasn't much rain last summer.
Often, folks. (used with a plural verb) people of a specified class or group:
country folk; poor folks.
(used with a plural verb) people as the carriers of culture, especially as representing the composite of social mores, customs, forms of behavior, etc., in a society:
The folk are the bearers of oral tradition.
folks, Informal.
  1. members of one's family; one's relatives:
    All his folks come from France.
  2. one's parents:
    Will your folks let you go?
Archaic. a people or tribe.
of or originating among the common people:
folk beliefs; a folk hero.
having unknown origins and reflecting the traditional forms of a society:
folk culture; folk art.
just folks, Informal. (of persons) simple, unaffected, unsophisticated, or open-hearted people:
He enjoyed visiting his grandparents because they were just folks.
Origin of folk
before 900; Middle English; Old English folc; cognate with Old Saxon, Old Norse folk, Old High German folk (German Volk)
4. kinfolk, kin, relations, people; clan, tribe. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for folks
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Think of a son of Daniel J. Bines treatin' folks like that as if they was his equals.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • You folks been cuttin' a pretty wide swath here in New York.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • It was the night you and the folks went to the opera with the Oldakers.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • Now the folks out in this part of the country have come to expect it from a man like him.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • "Thought it might be some of you folks when I saw the car," said Higbee, shaking hands all around.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
British Dictionary definitions for folks


noun (pl) folk, folks
(functioning as pl; often pl in form) people in general, esp those of a particular group or class: country folk
(functioning as pl; usually pl in form) (informal) members of a family
(functioning as sing) (informal) short for folk music
a people or tribe
(modifier) relating to, originating from, or traditional to the common people of a country: a folk song
Derived Forms
folkish, adjective
folkishness, noun
Word Origin
Old English folc; related to Old Saxon, Old Norse, Old High German folk
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for folks

"people of one's family," 1715, colloquial, from plural of folk.



Old English folc "common people, laity; men; people, nation, tribe; multitude; troop, army," from Proto-Germanic *folkom (cf. Old Frisian folk, Middle Dutch volc, German Volk "people"), from Proto-Germanic *fulka-, perhaps originally "host of warriors;" cf. Old Norse folk "people," also "army, detachment;" and Lithuanian pulkas "crowd," Old Church Slavonic pluku "division of an army," both believed to have been borrowed from Proto-Germanic. Old English folcstede could mean both "dwelling-place" and "battlefield."

Some have attempted to link the word to Greek plethos "multitude;" Latin plebs "people, mob," populus "people" or vulgus; OED and Klein discount this theory but it is accepted in Watkins. The plural form has been usual since 17c. Superseded in most senses by people. Old English folc was commonly used in forming compounds, such as folccwide "popular saying," folcgemot "town or district meeting;" folcwoh "deception of the public." Folk-etymology is attested from 1890.

By Folk-etymology is meant the influence exercised upon words, both as to their form and meaning, by the popular use and misuse of them. In a special sense, it is intended to denote the corruption which words undergo, owing either to false ideas about their derivation, or to a mistaken analogy with other words to which they are supposed to be related. [The Rev. A. Smythe Palmer, "Folk-Etymology," 1890]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for folks



  1. A band of hoodlums (1880s+ Underworld)
  2. gang; one's own gang: ''What does 'folks' mean now?'' Grober asks. In unison: ''Gangs'' (1990s+ Street gangs)
  3. Parents •Usu used affectionately: I want to introduce her to my folks (1940s+)
  4. Ordinary people; common people; just folks (1619+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with folks


see: just folks
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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