[ pop-yuh-ler ]
/ ˈpɒp yə lər /


Origin of popular

1375–1425; late Middle English populer < Latin populāris. See people, -ar1


1 bookmark, approved, liked.

Related forms

Can be confused

poplar popular

Synonym study

5. See general.

Word story

Popular comes from the Latin adjective populāris “pertaining to all or most of the people, belonging to or used by the common people (as opposed to the military, the aristocracy, or the senators)”; it is a very loaded word in Roman political history.
Populāris is a derivative of the noun populus “a human community, nation, the members of a society,” and in Rome “the entire people exercising its full legislative and judicial authority” (another weighty word). It is surprising that there is no certain etymology for populus. The most likely of several possible etymologies derives populus from Etruscan puplu (Etruscan, an extinct ancient language, is the “go to” language for Latin etymological problems); puplu appears in the name of the Etruscan town Pupluna ( Populōnia in Latin). For good measure, Rōma, the name of the city, is named after an Etruscan family, as are three of Rome’s seven hills.
The current, most familiar sense of popular , “regarded with favor, approval, or affection by many people,” dates from the very early 17th century.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for popular

British Dictionary definitions for popular


/ (ˈpɒpjʊlə) /


appealing to the general public; widely favoured or admired
favoured by an individual or limited groupI'm not very popular with her
connected with, representing, or prevailing among the general public; commonpopular discontent
appealing to or comprehensible to the laymana popular lecture on physics


(usually plural) cheap newspapers with mass circulation; the popular pressAlso shortened to: pops

Derived Forms

popularity (ˌpɒpjʊˈlærɪtɪ), noun

Word Origin for popular

C15: from Latin populāris belonging to the people, democratic, from populus people
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