[ pee-puhl ]
See synonyms for: peoplepeopledpeoplespeopling on

noun,plural peo·ples for 4.
  1. persons indefinitely or collectively; persons in general: to find it easy to talk to people; What will people think?

  2. persons, whether men, women, or children, considered as numerable individuals forming a group: Twenty people volunteered to help.

  1. human beings, as distinguished from animals or other beings.

  2. the entire body of persons who constitute a community, tribe, nation, or other group by virtue of a common culture, history, religion, or the like: the people of Australia; the Jewish people.

  3. the persons of any particular group, company, or number (sometimes used in combination): the people of a parish; educated people; salespeople.

  4. the ordinary persons, as distinguished from those who have wealth, rank, influence, etc.: a man of the people.

  5. the subjects, followers, or subordinates of a ruler, leader, employer, etc.: the king and his people.

  6. the body of enfranchised citizens of a state: representatives chosen by the people.

  7. a person's family or relatives: My grandmother's people came from Iowa.

  8. (used in the possessive in Communist or left-wing countries to indicate that an institution operates under the control of or for the benefit of the people, especially under Communist leadership): people's republic; people's army.

  9. animals of a specified kind: the monkey people of the forest.

verb (used with object),peo·pled, peo·pling.
  1. to furnish with people; populate.

  2. to supply or stock as if with people: a meadow peopled with flowers.

Origin of people

First recorded in 1225–75; Middle English peple, from Anglo-French poeple, Old French pueple, from Latin populus; see popular

synonym study For people

4. See race2.

Grammar notes for people

Is the plural persons or people? See person.

usage note For people

People is usually followed by a plural verb and referred to by a plural pronoun: People are always looking for a bargain. The people have made their choice. The possessive is formed regularly, with the apostrophe before the -s: people's desire for a bargain; the people's choice. When people means “the entire body of persons who constitute a community or other group by virtue of a common culture, history, etc.,” it is used as a singular, with the plural peoples : This people shares characteristics with certain inhabitants of central Asia. The aboriginal peoples of the Western Hemisphere speak many different languages. The formation of the possessive is regular; the singular is people's and the plural is peoples '.
At one time, some usage guides maintained that people could not be preceded by a number, as in Fewer than 30 people showed up. This use is now unquestionably standard in all contexts.

Other words from people

  • peo·ple·less, adjective
  • peopler, noun
  • outpeople, verb (used with object), out·peo·pled, out·peo·pling.
  • un·der·peo·pled, adjective
  • well-peopled, adjective

Words that may be confused with people

Words Nearby people Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use people in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for people


/ (ˈpiːpəl) /

noun(usually functioning as plural)
  1. persons collectively or in general

  2. a group of persons considered together: blind people

  1. plural peoples the persons living in a country and sharing the same nationality: the French people

  2. one's family: he took her home to meet his people

  3. persons loyal to someone powerful: the king's people accompanied him in exile

  4. the people

    • the mass of persons without special distinction, privileges, etc

    • the body of persons in a country, esp those entitled to vote

  1. (tr) to provide with or as if with people or inhabitants

Origin of people

C13: from Old French pople, from Latin populus; see populace


See person

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with people


In addition to the idiom beginning with people

  • people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones

also see:

  • tell (people) apart

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.