Definition of people in English:


plural noun

  • 1Human beings in general or considered collectively.

    ‘the earthquake killed 30,000 people’
    ‘people think I'm mad’
    • ‘In general, too many people put too much emphasis on historic stock market statistics.’
    • ‘As I grew older, my imaginary friends took on the personas of real living people.’
    • ‘The Home Office had to treat these people as decent human beings and provide extra resources.’
    • ‘The chances of people making a living without skills are reducing all the time.’
    • ‘I have always had an almost perverse desire to mix with people who make their living from crime.’
    • ‘The most interesting aspect to this issue is the question of how people generate a sense of belonging.’
    • ‘She was bewildered due to the general lack of people running the place, apparently.’
    • ‘Who better to take advice from than the experienced people who make their living from tourism?’
    • ‘I feel they are aiming at older people and people in wealthy jobs more than the younger generation.’
    • ‘You can count the number of people at most general openings on your fingers and toes.’
    • ‘We may well decide that it was the most evil act ever perpetrated by human beings on fellow people.’
    • ‘Neither do I have a problem in general with people who wish to follow religious beliefs.’
    • ‘Staff warn that as the exhibition contains human remains some people may find it disturbing.’
    • ‘Each day he has looked at a key issue facing us as a nation, as a people, as frail human beings.’
    • ‘We don't have nearly the amount of litter because people in general take pride in their city.’
    • ‘At the scene they interviewed a local man and some other people from the general area.’
    • ‘He's a very strong personality, but he talks to people as human beings and he's very honest.’
    • ‘It's not going to change until people from my generation, the baby boomers, start to die.’
    • ‘It is high among the reasons why people consult general practitioners and neurologists.’
    • ‘If so, was his stringent demand only for disciples, or was it intended for people in general?’
    human beings, persons, individuals, humans, mankind, humankind, the human race, homo sapiens, humanity, the human species, mortals, souls, living souls, personages, men, women, and children
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    1. 1.1the people The citizens of a country, especially when considered in relation to those who govern them.
      ‘his reforms no longer have the support of the people’
      • ‘This way they dominate and exploit the people they govern to their own advantage.’
      • ‘It is time somebody started to govern for the people than for their own place in history.’
      • ‘Neither in form nor in substance does the draft constitution bring power closer to the people.’
      • ‘The voters rejected the referendum because they did not like the people who advocated it.’
      • ‘This was equally popular with the people of Ancient Rome and going to a race was seen as a family event.’
      • ‘In the west, democracy means that the source of political authority resides in the people.’
      • ‘He promised to work to the best of his ability for all of the people of the constituency.’
      • ‘The great tribune of the people lost the confidence of his constituency party.’
      • ‘It is at the root of the disaffection between the mass of the people and their governments.’
      • ‘Then in a sugary way he said he had no time for us and attends only to the people in his constituency.’
      • ‘There is a change at a very basic level in the character of the people of a nuclear nation.’
      • ‘He promised that his every move would be subject to the will of the people.’
      • ‘The key in such a foreign policy will be to think of the people, the average citizenry first.’
      • ‘But it was also a way for the new government to allow the people to do their own work.’
      • ‘It was designed to evolve, to live, and to breathe like the people that it governs.’
      • ‘He was not popular with the people of England and he had to use force to maintain his control on England.’
      • ‘They work hard to build up good relations with people in the communities they work in.’
      • ‘The leaders rarely spoke like the people they governed and it was no disadvantage.’
      • ‘It is there for the people causing problems for law abiding citizens or residents of the community.’
      • ‘They were locally elected officials who listened to the people and gave them what they wanted.’
      citizens, subjects, electors, voters, taxpayers, residents, inhabitants, public, general public, citizenry, nation, population, populace, community, society
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    2. 1.2the people The members of a society without special rank or position.
      ‘she is a favourite of the people’
      • ‘All the comments from people have been positive, so with any luck she'll also think the same.’
      • ‘Can I change the terms and conditions of the people who are already working there?’
      • ‘One can begin to learn about the people whose history cannot be imagined from a position of privilege.’
      • ‘He explains to everybody what he expects from people in each particular position.’
      • ‘I feel a bit more relaxed among my fellow exiles from the ranks of normal people.’
      • ‘In a supposedly civilised society, people ought to be able to tolerate each other.’
      • ‘When one of the people in the middle makes a mistake they have to walk to the edge of the field and start watching again.’
      • ‘The idea of a union is so positive yet the people around me do not seem to appreciate it.’
      • ‘Culture is made up of the people in a given society and British Muslim women are part of this society.’
      • ‘I don't want to pay more council tax than is fair but I do want to live in a society that cares for people.’
      • ‘He claimed he could serve the people better in an independent position than an official one.’
      • ‘The staff are very positive and are committed to serving the people of Bolton.’
      • ‘It takes care of the people who had been rejected by society because of their disease.’
      • ‘We think we provide an equitable service to all ranks and all the people we represent.’
      • ‘All the people we have trained are now members of a close network and pay fees to our union.’
      • ‘I have so much positive support from the people around me, and that is a good thing to have.’
      • ‘Our position is that the people of Edinburgh will take the decision in a referendum.’
      • ‘I am also aware of the plight of some of the people in the position she is talking about.’
      • ‘All these taken into account by society and by the people around us, create our identity.’
      • ‘Three of the people from my science class were there, and a few others I was acquainted with.’
      the proletariat, the common people, the masses, the populace, the multitude, the rank and file, the commonality, the commonalty, the third estate, the plebeians, the crowd
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    3. 1.3the PeopleUS The state prosecution in a trial.
      ‘pre-trial statements made by the People's witnesses’
      • ‘We the People have the authority to do more than beg their bosses to behave a little less badly.’
      • ‘Now, I have handed to your Honours the early United States case of People v Whipple.’
      • ‘Then the People's Justice Party had a meeting of 150 people, which was really good.’
      • ‘This tactic allows them to be on both sides of the issue and thus unaccountable to the People.’
  • 2treated as singular or plural The members of a particular nation, community, or ethnic group.

    ‘the native peoples of Canada’
    • ‘Other nations and peoples at similar stages of development could do themselves a good turn by following suit.’
    • ‘Why am I convinced that more sophisticated armaments, or bigger armies, cannot make nations and peoples secure?’
    • ‘This strategy has had the remarkable effect of forging a French nation from many diverse peoples.’
    • ‘We need to embrace Europe, including the single currency, if good relations between nations and their peoples are to be fostered.’
    • ‘War is rolling the dice with the future of nations and peoples hanging in the balance.’
    • ‘The interests and diversity of all nations and all peoples must be respected.’
    • ‘Nowhere is this neglect more salient than in the consideration of the experiences of indigenous peoples and ethnic minority groups.’
    • ‘It is also hugely noticeable what winning and success can do for peoples, races, nations.’
    • ‘We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples.’
    • ‘Sport, in this case at least, perhaps does have the capacity to build bridges between nations and peoples.’
    • ‘How exactly does a nation or peoples get itself on the list to be humiliated at taxpayer expense and who is it that makes that final decision anyway?’
    • ‘We want a Europe where power flows upwards from nation states and their peoples, and not downwards from Brussels and its remote elites.’
    • ‘That document will guide all Government departments on creating policy that is responsive to the needs of ethnic peoples.’
    • ‘Water has great significance for First Nations and Aboriginal peoples.’
    • ‘For sure, a conflict between nations or peoples would be difficult to square.’
    • ‘There is also an eloquent record of tribal history of the indigenous peoples of Alaska's ethnic Indian and Inuit population.’
    • ‘However, the nation's indigenous peoples have never tasted their share of Argentina's riches.’
    • ‘Ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples and tribal people everywhere face discrimination.’
    • ‘You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples.’
    • ‘The peoples of all nations had offices there and they traded with each other and with the United States of America.’
    race, tribe, clan, ethnic group, strain, stock, caste, nation, country, population, populace
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  • 3one's peopleThe supporters or employees of a person in a position of power or authority.

    ‘I've had my people watching the house for some time now’
    • ‘The coaching staff consists of the team of people that is employed by the club to support the manager.’
    1. 3.1dated One's parents or relatives.
      ‘my people live in Warwickshire’
      family, parents, relatives, relations, folk, kinsmen, kin, kith and kin, next of kin, one's flesh and blood, one's own flesh and blood, blood relations, blood relatives, nearest and dearest
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[with object]
  • 1(of a group of people) inhabit (a place)

    ‘an arid mountain region peopled by warring clans’
    • ‘The heirs to the Incas and the Mayas, and those of the myriad other Indian nations that peopled the continent in the pre-Columbus era, have a long tradition of resistance.’
    • ‘Living at a German mission station on the periphery of a British colonial town peopled by Africans from different backgrounds, she became familiar with a range of cultures and languages.’
    • ‘The houses were well spaced apart with trees, green grass, and a rainbow of flowers growing between them, and the streets were peopled with merchants and craftsmen going home for the evening.’
    • ‘One implication of individual choice is that the American frontier from the Colonial period onward was peopled through a process of self-selection.’
    • ‘This is a world peopled by actors in a play within a play in which a cleric is ‘instructing some pious politician in hypocrisy’ and a judge is giving the wronged party a hard time.’
    • ‘The villages are densely peopled and like small rural towns in character.’
    • ‘From this time on she expressed a growing certainty that the world is peopled by children who need her help.’
    • ‘To most lawyers and clerics, the world was still peopled with good and evil spirits, but it was now deemed extremely difficult to distinguish their activities from natural causes.’
    • ‘But today, the world is peopled by intolerant religions that still decree that their God is the only true one.’
    • ‘His exterior scenes are peopled with many busy figures.’
    • ‘Our minds cannot even consistently imagine a world peopled by men of different logical structures or a logical structure different from our own.’
    • ‘In novel after novel, she would recreate the rarefied Oxbridge milieu, a world peopled by erudite lost souls relentlessly seeking wisdom and love.’
    • ‘Clearly, the dance world is peopled mostly by those who started young.’
    • ‘Yet, the first centralizing tendencies appeared only after skirmishes between Native Americans and settlers led colonial officials to consider peopling the region as a buffer to avoid further conflict.’
    • ‘Remote and entirely dedicated to his craft, he lived in a world peopled by a few intimate friends, a world sealed to outsiders.’
    • ‘Alas, the real world is peopled by the satisfactory and the barely satisfactory.’
    • ‘It was not true of the superstitious villagers who peopled the miniature municipality.’
    • ‘On the negative side, there is Mitchell, who felt that a pestilent and famine ridden land was peopled by lurking savages.’
    • ‘As a result, the most powerful nation in the world is peopled by a terrified citizenry jumping at shadows.’
    • ‘The observances recognise that the island was peopled by different groups of Indians who had settled here over the 7000 years before the European encounter.’
    populate, settle, settle in, colonize, establish oneself in, inhabit, live in, occupy
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    1. 1.1 Fill or be present in (a place or domain)
      ‘in her imagination the flat was suddenly peopled with ghosts’
      • ‘It is peopled by stockbrokers, businessmen and executives, who come and go throughout the day, giving their views on matters all and sundry.’
      • ‘The world peopled by signs of hope suddenly appears to be emptied of meaning.’
      • ‘What name do we have for such a horrible void that fills what was once peopled by the living?’
      • ‘He admires how she makes of the urban street a vast and peopled garden, and, in her roles as writer, mentor, and teacher, she emulates this throughout her life.’
      • ‘But one must feel a certain pity for him, trapped in a farce of horrendous dialogue and flatlining humour, peopled by androgynous hippy beatniks who make one glad the sixties are dead.’
      • ‘Ghosts and actors are not immaterial even though they may embody fictional scenarios; and conversely we might say that the world we live in, the world which is present to us, is peopled with phantoms.’
      • ‘In ancient times their land was supposed to have been peopled by a race of giants.’
      • ‘To that extent the custom by which Scottish and Irish historians have peopled their pages with ‘Normans’ is misleading.’
    2. 1.2 Fill (a place) with inhabitants.
      ‘it was his intention to people the town with English colonists’
      • ‘Obsessed with the sky, he watched the stars and the moon, peopling them with imaginary inhabitants.’


  • man (or woman) of the people

    • A person who comes from an ordinary background or identifies with ordinary people.

      ‘he is very much a man of the people’
      • ‘The approach is presumably to make her sound like a woman of the people.’
      • ‘Their perspective is from the perch of the upper class, particularly those media celebrities who pretend they are men and women of the people.’
      • ‘He spoke with the voice of a man of the people.’
      • ‘He always cultivated an image as a man of the people.’
      • ‘He burnished his credentials as a man of the people by taking the Tube to the Olympic Park.’
      • ‘He still revels in his reputation as a man of the people.’
      • ‘He is wasting no time in trying to make it clear he's a man of the people.’


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French poeple, from Latin populus ‘populace’.