Definition of people in US English:


plural noun

  • 1Human beings in general or considered collectively.

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

    ‘the native peoples of Canada’
    • ‘Why am I convinced that more sophisticated armaments, or bigger armies, cannot make nations and peoples secure?’
    • ‘Other nations and peoples at similar stages of development could do themselves a good turn by following suit.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘This strategy has had the remarkable effect of forging a French nation from many diverse peoples.’
    • ‘War is rolling the dice with the future of nations and peoples hanging in the balance.’
    • ‘It is also hugely noticeable what winning and success can do for peoples, races, nations.’
    • ‘That document will guide all Government departments on creating policy that is responsive to the needs of ethnic peoples.’
    • ‘The peoples of all nations had offices there and they traded with each other and with the United States of America.’
    • ‘There is also an eloquent record of tribal history of the indigenous peoples of Alaska's ethnic Indian and Inuit population.’
    • ‘The interests and diversity of all nations and all peoples must be respected.’
    • ‘You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples.’
    • ‘We want a Europe where power flows upwards from nation states and their peoples, and not downwards from Brussels and its remote elites.’
    • ‘We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples.’
    • ‘Ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples and tribal people everywhere face discrimination.’
    • ‘For sure, a conflict between nations or peoples would be difficult to square.’
    • ‘Nowhere is this neglect more salient than in the consideration of the experiences of indigenous peoples and ethnic minority groups.’
    • ‘Water has great significance for First Nations and Aboriginal peoples.’
    • ‘We need to embrace Europe, including the single currency, if good relations between nations and their peoples are to be fostered.’
    • ‘Sport, in this case at least, perhaps does have the capacity to build bridges between nations and peoples.’
    • ‘However, the nation's indigenous peoples have never tasted their share of Argentina's riches.’
    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 A person's parents or relatives.
      ‘my people live in West Virginia’
      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 particular group of people) inhabit (an area or 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One implication of individual choice is that the American frontier from the Colonial period onward was peopled through a process of self-selection.’
    • ‘Remote and entirely dedicated to his craft, he lived in a world peopled by a few intimate friends, a world sealed to outsiders.’
    • ‘Clearly, the dance world is peopled mostly by those who started young.’
    • ‘But today, the world is peopled by intolerant religions that still decree that their God is the only true one.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His exterior scenes are peopled with many busy figures.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was not true of the superstitious villagers who peopled the miniature municipality.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Alas, the real world is peopled by the satisfactory and the barely satisfactory.’
    • ‘From this time on she expressed a growing certainty that the world is peopled by children who need her help.’
    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, environment, or domain)
      ‘the street is peopled with ragamuffin hippies’
      • ‘The world peopled by signs of hope suddenly appears to be emptied of meaning.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is peopled by stockbrokers, businessmen and executives, who come and go throughout the day, giving their views on matters all and sundry.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘What name do we have for such a horrible void that fills what was once peopled by the living?’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 Fill (an area or place) with a particular group of 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.’


See person


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