[ pop-yuh-leyt ]
See synonyms for populate on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object),pop·u·lat·ed, pop·u·lat·ing.
  1. to inhabit; live in; be the inhabitants of: Almost 2 million people populate the immediate area of the factory and were exposed to potential carcinogens.

  2. to furnish with inhabitants, as by colonization; people: In the 1700s, the British government populated the colony of New South Wales with convicts.

  1. Digital Technology. to fill (a digital document): The survey results will populate the spreadsheet as soon as they are submitted online.She’s a fantastic photographer who has populated her blog with beautiful images.

Origin of populate

First recorded in 1570–80; from Medieval Latin populātus, past participle of populāre “to populate, inhabit”; see people, -ate1

Other words from populate

  • out·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, adjective
  • un·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. 2023

How to use populate in a sentence

  • Unfortunately, it effected very little, incapable as it was of populating even Mexico.

  • My dear Mr. Percivail, women will go on being ruled to the end of time unless they cease populating the world with sons.

    West Wind Drift | George Barr McCutcheon
  • They were the outgrowth of an ancient policy that had been used centuries ago for populating the planets of the galaxy.

    But, I Don't Think | Gordon Randall Garrett
  • His vigor as a tireless centaur had helped him powerfully in his task of populating his lands.

    The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse | Vicente Blasco Ibanez
  • Donna Inez might have belonged to a race populating another planet of the solar system.

    The Green Mummy | Fergus Hume

British Dictionary definitions for populate


/ (ˈpɒpjʊˌleɪt) /

  1. (often passive) to live in; inhabit

  2. to provide a population for; colonize or people

Origin of populate

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