Definition of populate in English:



  • 1 Form the population of (a place)

    ‘the island is populated by scarcely 40,000 people’
    ‘a cosy rural town populated with friendly folk’
    • ‘Rural areas were less densely populated with basically the same family structure until social security and child labor laws came about.’
    • ‘The island is populated with massive herds of brontosaurus, but the big old meat-eaters would rather chase down six humans instead of going for the easy kill.’
    • ‘Pretty soon the place was populated with everybody from gypsies to prime ministers to people with turbans running around - it was indeed an Orson party.’
    • ‘This trend continued into the Industrial Revolution, when the city was populated with the upper classes in amongst the industrial sprawls of Manchester and Liverpool.’
    • ‘The landscape is populated with many different beasts, although some parts of the world sometimes seem barren and empty.’
    • ‘The vast 17-acre site is populated with members of the Sarawak's various ethnic groups and their longhouses.’
    • ‘Their comments area is populated with people openly posting their first name and last names as attribution.’
    • ‘The battlefield is populated with a large number of mooks (grunt soldiers), and several more powerful officers, on both sides.’
    • ‘The field is populated with specialists examining different ways to enhance and better their own educational or technological niche.’
    • ‘Many beggars and vagabonds had also gathered in this place, the limited flatlands around the area was populated with white tents and pieces of clothing hanging upon long lines to dry.’
    • ‘The modern battlefield is increasingly populated with civilians and paramilitary operatives who accompany U.S. forces in support of military operations.’
    • ‘The Red Zone is still populated with those more likely to farm, ranch, hunt, fish, drive pick-ups, even attend church regularly.’
    • ‘The city is densely populated with the second highest number of people per hectare in the whole of the south-east.’
    • ‘The city is populated with blue-collar union workers who always vote for Democrats.’
    • ‘Updike's universe is populated with ‘the little ones,’ who, like so many of us, stumble through life in search of meaning.’
    • ‘And we used to have abandoned buildings; now the area is heavily populated with businesses and people, and new influxes of people are coming in because of the safety of the area.’
    • ‘The crash site is densely populated with lots of small homes.’
    • ‘This city was populated with a good number of cats and dogs.’
    • ‘You can almost smell the stench of the garbage; poor families struggle in dismal apartments; the streets are populated with the homeless and dispossessed.’
    • ‘Most of China's western provinces are populated with Turkish-speaking Muslims, who are deeply affected by what happens beyond the frontier.’
    • ‘From D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation forward, cinema has reminded us that battlefields are populated with human beings, not toy soldiers.’
    inhabit, live in, reside in, occupy, people
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    1. 1.1Cause people to settle in (a place).
      • ‘Before the Herero people settled in this country, it was populated by the San and the Bergdama.’
      • ‘Oklahoma is largely populated by pioneers from other States.’
      • ‘He used to believe in a Greater Israel stretching from the river to the sea, populated by new waves of pioneering Jewish settlers like his parents.’
      • ‘Much of the world was not populated, settlements of people existed here and there.’
      • ‘French Guiana is populated by settlers from both China and India, in addition to France.’
      • ‘But mainly they work in the home and raise the enormous families that they hope will populate the Territories: new generations raised in the settler way of thinking.’
      • ‘Leppings Lane end, with room to move about, populated by pitmen - they weren't called miners in those days.’
      • ‘Euramerican pioneers populated the central Mojave so recently that many survived into the mid-twentieth century as celebrated living relics.’
      • ‘Macedonians move out of apartment blocks and neighbourhoods populated by Albanians.’
      • ‘Perhaps it is relevant that Israel has built four Jewish settlements around Nablus, populated by armed militants.’
      • ‘The earthern barriers to the surrounding arms of the Fraser have existed in some form since the settlers first started populating the area in the mid to late 1800s.’
      • ‘There would be no influx of settlers to populate the Holy Land with Latin Christians.’
      • ‘Unilateral empire might work today if the world beyond America's borders were populated by five billion Buddhist monks, willing to calmly endure.’
      • ‘Thousands of previous instances of cars moving on streets tell us that cars usually populate streets, so much so that a street devoid of cars is rather eerie.’
      • ‘German foreigners, the few Jews, and Chilean peasants coexist in a space hemmed in by borders which my prose opens and closes to mark the diversity of voices that populate this region.’
      • ‘The islands were first settled in part by Portuguese prisoners sent to populate the remote archipelago as a condition of their release.’
      • ‘In contrast to the closed components, all the open ones were well populated at all concentrations.’
      • ‘Pakistan, concerned about trade routes in the region, was the first foreign power to take a serious interest in the Sunni Muslim zealots who populated its border with Afghanistan.’
      • ‘In Monterey Bay, California, scientists documented a complete turnover of the marine population with cold water fish moving northward and warm water fish and sea animals moving in to populate that area.’
      • ‘Before colonization, Cameroon was a territory of diverse climatic zones populated by a variety of peoples and polities.’
      colonize, people, move into, occupy, take up residence in, make one's home in, open up, pioneer, overrun
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    2. 1.2Fill or be present in (a place or sphere)
      ‘the film is an epic fantasy populated by grotesque weirdos’
      • ‘While their plays are set in the same remote areas of Ireland and exhibit the same, almost cliched, ability to spin a good yarn, the characters with which the writers populate their worlds are starkly different.’
      • ‘The quality of Miéville's writing is often breathtaking, his skill at characterisation unsurpassed, but in many ways even more remarkable is his sheer inventiveness, the genius with which he creates and populates his fantastic world.’
      • ‘They populate fantasies, are given attributes important to the fan, and their reactions to any of this are rarely considered.’
      • ‘Blom, I assume, contrasts these quotidian images from the early part of the last century with what appears to be a semblance of normality for the characters who populate the background of these works.’
      • ‘Viewers can follow the action, get close to the wacky characters populating poker rooms, and pick up tips.’
      • ‘Here's a brief guide to the freaks and grotesques that populate the Peepshow world.’
      • ‘At some point, increasing error causes major information loss because many conformations populate the average noise sphere.’
      • ‘His characters populated the backgrounds of movie lots and locations, and they did their jobs.’
      • ‘She reminded me of the characters that populate Hardy's novels, whose spheres of experience are entirely contained within the radius of work and home.’
      • ‘The cast of characters that populates the pages of the O'Connor diaries is vast.’
      • ‘Certainly grotesque characters populate the world, as in all of the Coens' films, but a lot of the film ultimately centers on Ed's obsession with cleanliness.’
      • ‘Dealing with life outside and inside of prison, All Things Censored draws us into parallel universes populated by people struggling for humanity.’
      • ‘Cavorting among the alphabet characters are tiny human figures, veritable Tom Thumbs, populating a world of extravagantly scaled objects.’
      • ‘It was a crazy, hothouse atmosphere populated by exceptionally gifted, strong-willed characters who seemed to drift in and out whenever they pleased.’
      • ‘Kari draws out a wonderful performance from old schoolmate Tomas Lemarquis, as Noi, a complex and compelling character, while populating his village with a host of interesting amateurs.’
      • ‘Often dispensing with the formulas which govern dramatic construction, his dramaturgy conjures a magical world populated by a vast array of picaresque characters.’
      • ‘Fritz The Cat's world is populated by all kinds of crazy and kooky characters.’
      • ‘Its market positioning is more Mallory Towers than Jilly Cooper, as the strong female characters that populate its pages tend to have a good, wholesome, practical approach to sexual relationships.’
      • ‘He populates his worlds with characters that are not out of place in the fabricated environments.’
      • ‘Given that Haslam has played and improvised enough characters to populate a small city, is there some quality that unites the less ephemeral ones?’
    3. 1.3Computing Fill in (data).
      • ‘The salesperson's identity, perhaps, could be used as the key to draw in any supplementary material and customer details could be populated from their name alone.’
      • ‘‘Software development is easy - you don't have data protection problems until you start populating a database,’ Bierce says.’
      • ‘The data should be populated into the quality performance database and used to balance against the quality measurement information.’
      • ‘The DIMM slots are colour coded, but they are colour coded by channel, rather than by which slots should be populated in order to enable dual channel DDR.’
      • ‘The next goal is to populate a database of 600,000 direct-mail addresses with e-mail addresses, the better to reach customers directly and cheaply.’
      • ‘Having the LED between two PCI slots means you can easily mistake which slot has the problem if both are populated above and below the LED.’
      • ‘The system arrived with 2GB of DDR2 memory, with 4GB possible when the motherboard is fully populated.’
      • ‘Motherboards with an odd number of DIMM slots will still run in dual-channel mode even when a third or fifth slot is populated, the company added.’
      • ‘Having been worried that the entire gaming internet was populated by homophobic teens, that's a better ratio than I was expecting.’
      • ‘In any event, when I tried to skirt the browser interface and populate the cluster database manually with the provided script, I was greeted with what I consider the death knell of this project.’
      • ‘The bottom portion of the frame is populated by the complex geometry and sprites that make up the environment, while the top portion contains some geometry and the large sky box.’
      • ‘Instead, they can simply populate the backplane with the desired drive type.’
      • ‘I quickly corrected the error and re-ran the Perl script that generates the HTML pages and populates the database for the search engine.’
      • ‘However, there just aren't enough bytes to populate the game itself.’
      • ‘You're almost ready to start populating the LDAP database.’
      • ‘We use this technique to populate the database selector in the example.’
      • ‘Instead of buying a database of leads, or having telemarketers working to create lead databases, web forms allow site owners to have the prospects themselves populate a business database.’
      • ‘Memory must be populated 10 DIMMs at a time, with two DIMMs per cartridge and a total of five cartridges.’
      • ‘You're not going to let them write to the file, just read, populate the spreadsheet.’
      • ‘In such a case it makes more sense to use a conventional ETL (extract, transform and load) tool to populate the data warehouse rather than attempt to federate it with transactional sources.’


Late 16th century: from medieval Latin populat- supplied with people, from the verb populare, from populus people.