[ puhb-lik ]
See synonyms for public on
  1. of, relating to, or affecting a population or a community as a whole: public funds; a public nuisance.

  2. done, made, acting, etc., for the community as a whole: public prosecution.

  1. open to all persons: a public meeting.

  2. of, relating to, or being in the service of a community or nation, especially as a government officer: a public official.

  3. maintained at the public expense and under public control: a public library; a public road.

  4. generally known: The fact became public.

  5. familiar to the public; prominent: public figures.

  6. open to the view of all; existing or conducted in public: a public dispute.

  7. pertaining or devoted to the welfare or well-being of the community: public spirit.

  8. of or relating to all humankind; universal.

  1. the people constituting a community, state, or nation.

  2. a particular group of people with a common interest, aim, etc.: the book-buying public.

  1. British Informal. a tavern; public house.

Idioms about public

  1. go public,

    • to issue stock for sale to the general public.

    • to present private or previously concealed information, news, etc., to the public; make matters open to public view: The senator threatened to go public with his congressional-reform plan.

  2. in public, not in private; in a situation open to public view or access; publicly: It was the first time that she had sung in public.

  1. make public, to cause to become known generally, as through the news media: Her resignation was made public this morning.

Origin of public

First recorded in 1400–50; from Latin pūblicus, earlier pōblicus, pōplicus (spelling influenced by pūbēs “adulthood”; see pubes), ultimately from popul(us) people + -icus -ic; replacing late Middle English publique, from Middle French, from Latin, as above

Other words from public

  • non·pub·lic, adjective
  • quasi-public, adjective
  • qua·si-pub·lic·ly, adverb
  • un·pub·lic, adjective
  • un·pub·lic·ly, adverb

Words that may be confused with public

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

How to use public in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for public


/ (ˈpʌblɪk) /

  1. of, relating to, or concerning the people as a whole

  2. open or accessible to all: public gardens

  1. performed or made openly or in the view of all: public proclamation

  2. (prenominal) well-known or familiar to people in general: a public figure

  3. (usually prenominal) maintained at the expense of, serving, or for the use of a community: a public library

  4. open, acknowledged, or notorious: a public scandal

  5. go public

    • (of a private company) to issue shares for subscription by the public

    • to reveal publicly hitherto confidential information

  1. the community or people in general

  2. a part or section of the community grouped because of a common interest, activity, etc: the racing public

Origin of public

C15: from Latin pūblicus, changed from pōplicus of the people, 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with public


see go public; in public; in the public eye; John Doe (Q. Public); wash one's dirty linen in public.

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