Definition of populate in English:



  • 1 Form the population of (a town, area, or country)

    ‘the island is populated by scarcely 40,000 people’
    ‘a densely populated area’
    • ‘The city is densely populated with the second highest number of people per hectare in the whole of the south-east.’
    • ‘This city was populated with a good number of cats and dogs.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The city is populated with blue-collar union workers who always vote for Democrats.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Most of China's western provinces are populated with Turkish-speaking Muslims, who are deeply affected by what happens beyond the frontier.’
    • ‘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 modern battlefield is increasingly populated with civilians and paramilitary operatives who accompany U.S. forces in support of military operations.’
    • ‘The crash site is densely populated with lots of small homes.’
    • ‘Rural areas were less densely populated with basically the same family structure until social security and child labor laws came about.’
    • ‘The landscape is populated with many different beasts, although some parts of the world sometimes seem barren and empty.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The vast 17-acre site is populated with members of the Sarawak's various ethnic groups and their longhouses.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘You can almost smell the stench of the garbage; poor families struggle in dismal apartments; the streets are populated with the homeless and dispossessed.’
    • ‘Their comments area is populated with people openly posting their first name and last names as attribution.’
    • ‘The Red Zone is still populated with those more likely to farm, ranch, hunt, fish, drive pick-ups, even attend church regularly.’
    • ‘Updike's universe is populated with ‘the little ones,’ who, like so many of us, stumble through life in search of meaning.’
    inhabit, live in, reside in, occupy, people
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Cause people to settle in (an area or place)
      ‘Finland pursues a policy designed to populate its Russian borders’
      • ‘There would be no influx of settlers to populate the Holy Land with Latin Christians.’
      • ‘Oklahoma is largely populated by pioneers from other States.’
      • ‘Perhaps it is relevant that Israel has built four Jewish settlements around Nablus, populated by armed militants.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Leppings Lane end, with room to move about, populated by pitmen - they weren't called miners in those days.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Before colonization, Cameroon was a territory of diverse climatic zones populated by a variety of peoples and polities.’
      • ‘Unilateral empire might work today if the world beyond America's borders were populated by five billion Buddhist monks, willing to calmly endure.’
      • ‘Macedonians move out of apartment blocks and neighbourhoods populated by Albanians.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The islands were first settled in part by Portuguese prisoners sent to populate the remote archipelago as a condition of their release.’
      • ‘Euramerican pioneers populated the central Mojave so recently that many survived into the mid-twentieth century as celebrated living relics.’
      • ‘Before the Herero people settled in this country, it was populated by the San and the Bergdama.’
      colonize, people, move into, occupy, take up residence in, make one's home in, open up, pioneer, overrun
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Fill or be present in (a place, environment, or domain)
      ‘the spirit of the book and the characters who populate its pages’
      • ‘Viewers can follow the action, get close to the wacky characters populating poker rooms, and pick up tips.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They populate fantasies, are given attributes important to the fan, and their reactions to any of this are rarely considered.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Dealing with life outside and inside of prison, All Things Censored draws us into parallel universes populated by people struggling for humanity.’
      • ‘Often dispensing with the formulas which govern dramatic construction, his dramaturgy conjures a magical world populated by a vast array of picaresque characters.’
      • ‘Cavorting among the alphabet characters are tiny human figures, veritable Tom Thumbs, populating a world of extravagantly scaled objects.’
      • ‘The cast of characters that populates the pages of the O'Connor diaries is vast.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His characters populated the backgrounds of movie lots and locations, and they did their jobs.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At some point, increasing error causes major information loss because many conformations populate the average noise sphere.’
      • ‘Given that Haslam has played and improvised enough characters to populate a small city, is there some quality that unites the less ephemeral ones?’
      • ‘Fritz The Cat's world is populated by all kinds of crazy and kooky characters.’
      • ‘Here's a brief guide to the freaks and grotesques that populate the Peepshow world.’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3 Add data to a previously empty section of (an electronic form, document, etc.)
      ‘use scripts to populate the graph with data’
      • ‘Besides, it saves us from more of that hairy-chest go-go dance music that populates so much of the rest of the record, the stuff I simply just don't like no matter who does it.’
      • ‘Mostly men populated O'Reilly's, the kind of men with rough hands and greased back hair.’
      • ‘As with the runlist, the rows in the targets table are populated in two stages.’
      • ‘The room, brightly lit by the sun through the gaps in its wooden slat roof, was populated by perhaps four tables and ten people.’
      • ‘So if we bring it up on our map in our [computer] program, the map just populates with thousands of little spots.… So if you're looking at a satellite image of what's down there, you can zoom right into this photo and see it.’
      • ‘The values populated for major, minor, and patch are under the control of the Web service.’
      • ‘As she reviews and interacts with the material, she watches information automatically populate into her assessment monitor that she filled out with information on why she's taking this course.’
      • ‘A single field for recording allergy information must be included in software programs so that the information can populate all appropriate clinical screens and be visible to clinicians.’
      • ‘A single ruddy table was populated by two dozen chairs supporting eighteen people.’
      • ‘In order to make things a bit more interesting, let's populate our table with some values.’
      • ‘Steaming cakes and loaves of bread populated the table between the many dishes of meat and sauces.’
      • ‘With new programs populating over half of its fall schedule (including a movies/specials night), Fox isn't operating from a position of strength.’
      • ‘Now the depiction of their son, Leo, and the two family pooches populates that prime spot.’
      • ‘We illustrate in this article that this term may also be appropriate for follicular lymphoma when it populates otherwise benign follicles within the cortex of the architecturally normal lymph node.’
      • ‘The plant systematist seeking to explain such a pattern would logically look for the distinguishing features of the plethora of orchids populating that single branch of the cladogram.’
      • ‘Now that we have a defined table and indexes, we can start to populate our database table with some events.’
      • ‘Taken together, our results support a folding mechanism wherein at least one folding intermediate populates behind the main rate-limiting step.’
      • ‘At the end it populates the table with the spreadsheet data.’
      • ‘The goal is to populate and maintain an employer database with 95 percent accuracy of the Selected Reserve and 75 percent accuracy of the Individual Ready Reserve.’
      • ‘You can then populate tables with text and updatable fields.’


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