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verb (used with object), pop·u·lat·ed, pop·u·lat·ing.
  1. to inhabit; live in; be the inhabitants of.
  2. to furnish with inhabitants, as by colonization; people.
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Origin of populate

1570–80; < Medieval Latin populātus, past participle of populāre to inhabit. See people, -ate1
Related formsout·pop·u·late, verb (used with object), out·pop·u·lat·ed, out·pop·u·lat·ing.re·pop·u·late, verb (used with object), re·pop·u·lat·ed, re·pop·u·lat·ing.su·per·pop·u·lat·ed, adjectiveun·der·pop·u·late, verb (used with object), un·der·pop·u·lat·ed, un·der·pop·u·lat·ing.un·pop·u·lat·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for populate


verb (tr)
  1. (often passive) to live in; inhabit
  2. to provide a population for; colonize or people
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Word Origin

C16: from Medieval Latin populāre to provide with inhabitants, from Latin 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

Word Origin and History for populate


1610s, from Medieval Latin populatus, past participle of populare "inhabit, to people," from Latin populus "inhabitants, people, nation" (see people (n.)). Related: Populated; populating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper