AskDefine | Define public

Dictionary Definition

public adj
1 not private; open to or concerning the people as a whole; "the public good"; "public libraries"; "public funds"; "public parks"; "a public scandal"; "public gardens"; "performers and members of royal families are public figures" [ant: private]
2 affecting the people or community as a whole; "community leaders"; "community interests"; "the public welfare"


1 people in general considered as a whole; "he is a hero in the eyes of the public" [syn: populace, world]
2 a body of people sharing some common interest; "the reading public"

User Contributed Dictionary



From publicus


  • /ˈpʰʌblɪk/, /"p_hVblIk/
  • Hyphenation: pub·lic


  1. Pertaining to the affairs or official affairs of all people, not just those of a private group; contrasted with private.
  2. Open to all.
  3. Funded by the government.
  4. In the context of "of a company": Traded publicly via a stock market.


pertaining to the affairs or official affairs of all people
  • Arabic: (ʕāmm), (ʕumúmiyy)
  • Chinese: 公共 (gōnggòng)
  • Czech: veřejný
  • Dutch: publiek
  • Finnish: julkinen
  • French: public
  • German: öffentlich
  • Greek: δημόσιος, κοινός
  • Hungarian: nyilvános
  • Italian: pubblico
  • Japanese: 公衆の (こうしゅうの, kōshū no)
  • Korean: 공중의 (gongjung-ui)
  • Portuguese: público
  • Russian: общественный
  • Spanish: público
  • Swedish: offentlig
open to all
  • Czech: veřejný
  • Greek: δημόσιος


  1. The people in general, regardless of membership of any particular group.
    Members of the public may not proceed beyond this point.
    • 2007 May 4, Martin Jacques, The Guardian
      Bush and Blair stand condemned by their own publics and face imminent political extinction.


Usage notes

  • Although generally considered uncountable, this noun does also have countable useage, as in the citation above.


people in general
  • Arabic: جمهور
  • Czech: veřejnost
  • Finnish: yleisö
  • French: public
  • German: Publikum
  • Greek: κοινό
  • Hebrew: ציבור
  • Latin: publicum, vulgus
  • Portuguese: público
  • Slovene: javnost
  • Spanish: público


Etymology 1

From publicus.


  1. Public

Etymology 2

Noun use of public (cf publicum).


fr-noun m
  1. Public (people in general)
  2. audience
    Il devait plaire à son public.
    He had to please his audience

Extensive Definition

Public is about the what of belonging to the people; relating to, or affecting, a nation, state, or community; opposed to private; as, the public treasury, a road or lake. Public is also defined as the people of a nation not affiliated with the government of that nation.
Public to the general body of mankind, or of a nation, state, or community; the people, indefinitely; as, the public; also, a particular body or aggretion of people; as, an author's public. "public Network" means a network that is regulated as a common carrier.
Aggens (1983), in the paper titled "Identifying different levels of public interest in participation" states: "There is no single public, but different levels of public based on differing levels of interest and ability".

Selected bibliography

  1. Dewey, John. Public & Its Problems, Swallow Press, June 1954, ISBN 0-8040-0254-1.
  2. Habermas, Jürgen. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought), The MIT Press; Reprint edition, August 28, 1991, ISBN 0-262-58108-6.
  3. Habermas, Jürgen. The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume 2: Lifeword and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason, Thomas McCarthy (Translator), Beacon Press; Reprint edition, 1987, ISBN 0-8070-1401-X.
  4. Hannay, Alastair. On the Public, Routledge; 1 edition, July 13, 2005, ISBN 0-415-32792-X.
  5. Kierkegaard, Soren. A Literary Review (Penguin Classics), Alastair Hannay (Translator), Penguin Classics, March 26, 2002, ISBN 0-14-044801-2.
  6. Lippmann, Walter. The Phantom Public (Library of Conservative Thought), Transaction Publishers; Reprint edition, January 1, 1993, ISBN 1-56000-677-3.
  7. Mayhew, Leon H.. The New Public: Professional Communication and the Means of Social Influence, (Cambridge Cultural Social Studies), Cambridge University Press, September 28, 1997, ISBN 0-521-48493-6.
  8. Sennett, Richard. The Fall of Public Man W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition, June 1992, ISBN 0-393-30879-0.
public in German: Público
public in Spanish: Público (diario portugués)
public in French: Public (sociologie)
public in Croatian: Javnost
public in Indonesian: Publik
public in Italian: Pubblico
public in Japanese: 公共
public in Portuguese: Público
public in Slovak: Verejnosť
public in Slovenian: Javnost
public in Serbian: Јавно мњење
public in Finnish: Público
public in Swedish: Allmän

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Babbittish, Everyman, John Doe, Philistine, Public, accessible, acknowledged, adherent, admitted, affirmed, alehouse, announced, apparent, appendage, associated, attendant, audience, available, bar, barrel house, barroom, beer garden, beer parlor, bistro, blatant, blind tiger, boardinghouse, body politic, bourgeois, bourgeoisie, broadcast, brought to notice, buff, business, buyers, cabaret, cafe, campy, carriage trade, catholic, cavaliere servente, celebrated, circulated, citizenry, citizens, civic, civil, clear, clear-cut, clientage, clientele, cocktail lounge, collective, collectivistic, common, common knowledge, common man, common property, commonalty, commonly known, commonplace, commonwealth, communal, communistic, community, community at large, commutual, conjoint, conjunct, conspicuous, constituency, consumers, cooperative, cortical, cosmopolitan, courtier, cultural community, current, custom, dangler, declared, demos, dependent, diffused, disciple, disreputable, disseminated, distributed, dive, dorm, dormitory, doss house, dramshop, drinking saloon, dwellers, eminent, epidermic, estate, everybody, everyman, everyone, everywoman, exomorphic, exposed, exterior, external, extrinsic, familiar, famous, fan, flagrant, fleabag, flophouse, flunky, folk, folks, follower, followers, following, free, fringe, general, general public, gentry, gin mill, government, governmental, groggery, grogshop, guest house, habitancy, hackneyed, hanger-on, henchman, high-camp, hoi polloi, homely, homespun, homme de cour, honky-tonk, hospice, hostel, hostelry, hotel, household, illustrious, in circulation, in common, in print, in public, in the open, infamous, influential, inhabitants, inn, international, joint, kitschy, known, linguistic community, local, lodging house, low-camp, made public, make public, manifest, market, masses, men, middle class, multitude, municipal, mutual, nation, national, nationality, nightclub, notable, noted, notorious, obvious, open, openly, ordinary, out, outer, outermost, outlying, outmost, outside, outstanding, outward, outward-facing, overt, parasite, partisan, patent, patronage, pension, people, people at large, people in general, peripheral, persons, plain, platitudinous, plebeian, plebeians, polity, pop, populace, popular, population, portion, posada, pothouse, proclaimed, projected, proletariat, prominent, propagated, proverbial, pub, public house, publicly, publish, published, purchasing public, pursuer, pursuivant, rank and file, rathskeller, reciprocal, renowned, reported, roadhouse, rooming house, roundabout, rumshop, rural market, saloon, saloon bar, satellite, sectary, sector, seeming, segment, shadow, shared, social, socialistic, societal, society, speakeasy, special-interest group, speech community, spread, state, stated, stooge, suburban market, successor, suite, superficial, supporter, supranational, surface, tagtail, tail, talked-about, talked-of, taproom, tavern, telecast, televised, the citizenry, the general public, the people, the populace, the population, the public, third estate, trade, trainbearer, trite, truistic, unconcealed, universal, universally admitted, universally recognized, unrestricted, unshrouded, urban, vernacular, viewable, visible, votary, ward heeler, well-kenned, well-known, well-recognized, well-understood, whole people, widely known, widespread, wine shop, world, worldwide, you and me, youth market
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