Definition of public in English:



  • 1Of or concerning the people as a whole.

    ‘public concern’
    ‘public affairs’
    • ‘Mr Fitzgerald said the right of the press and the public to know matters of legitimate public concern was recognised.’
    • ‘We need to know how the delay happened, and if there are any other public health concerns that we need to know about.’
    • ‘As the school year started two years ago there was little public concern over this.’
    • ‘The trust recognised public concern but did not have any grounds to object to the trial.’
    • ‘This division is important in getting really valid issues and concerns into the public forum.’
    • ‘West Yorkshire Police continue to have serious concerns about public safety.’
    • ‘Irish nightclubs are big business but public order concerns are threatening to cut short the party.’
    • ‘Concern with public welfare found an echo in another reforming current - that provided by the Church.’
    • ‘These matters are of grave public concern and the people deserve to know the truth.’
    • ‘But he said he was increasingly concerned about the public cynicism of politics and politicians.’
    • ‘It is perhaps worth noting that the issue of secrecy in matters of public affairs has been long a source of public concern.’
    • ‘She argues that the paper trivialises legitimate public concern over GM foods.’
    • ‘He is bound to recognise the acute public concern rightly aroused where deaths occur in custody.’
    • ‘Do we ban tobacco out of concern for public health, or do we allow people the freedom to choose their own evils.’
    • ‘Manners are not a private affair, but are matters of great public concern.’
    • ‘Plans for a new nightspot in Maldon have been rejected by district councillors concerned about public safety.’
    • ‘They maintain that since public safety is their concern therefore they have to be very cautious.’
    • ‘That is a matter for public concern for those living in the region.’
    • ‘We recognise that this remains a matter of considerable public concern.’
    • ‘In my experience, the press gallery is more concerned with public affairs than private ones.’
    popular, general, common, communal, collective, shared, joint, universal, widespread
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    1. 1.1Open to or shared by all the people of an area or country.
      ‘a public library’
      • ‘A number of local residents have put forward proposals to make the wooded public area a greater amenity for villagers.’
      • ‘Residents in Redvales angered over plans to build a new nursery in the area held a public meeting on Monday.’
      • ‘The initial contribution will be used to add public art to the area in front of Keighley Shared Church and the adjacent car park.’
      • ‘The roof needs replacing, and although most of the public areas look fine, there are parts of the castle which are in a very bad state.’
      • ‘The ration of half an hour per week or fortnight is simply not enough and this should not be a case of finance but it should be in the area of public amenity.’
      • ‘Mr Longworth said Miss Suri was wearing correct footwear and was in an area approved for public access when she slipped.’
      • ‘There will be a public meeting for all residents of the area on a date to be announced in the Autumn.’
      • ‘She wondered whether the change would qualify that area for more public lighting and footpaths.’
      • ‘We are about to embark on a campaign of planting and general enhancement of public areas.’
      • ‘There was a place a little further down that had a public open area for the community.’
      • ‘People living in the area believed it was to be a public meeting where they would have the opportunity to have their say.’
      • ‘It was icy on the road inside the residential area while the public roads are completely clear of snow already.’
      • ‘A regular visitor to the north Cotswolds has kicked up a stink about the state of the public toilets in the area.’
      • ‘This site is an area of public open space zoned for recreation and amenity.’
      • ‘This is a public meeting and all people in the area are welcome to attend.’
      • ‘To date, the city has held several open houses and public meetings about the plans, he said.’
      • ‘Maritz said the parking area was public open space - he could not allow the deck to remain.’
      • ‘The first phase of the project includes the refurbishment of the bedrooms and revamping the bar and public areas.’
      • ‘People are complaining about the mess, and there is a big fine for owners of dogs that soil public areas.’
      • ‘They will be presenting their case to an open public meeting at Guildhall next Tuesday at 7.30 pm.’
      communal, not private, not exclusive, accessible to all, available, free, unrestricted, community
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    2. 1.2Of or provided by the government rather than an independent, commercial company.
      ‘public benefits’
      • ‘Of course the tone set by those at the top of the Government influences the civil service and public bodies.’
      • ‘All governments spend public money raised from private citizens and corporations in taxes.’
      • ‘We stand against privatisation of public services and against tuition fees.’
      • ‘She maintained the overall tax-take in order to keep up spending on public services.’
      • ‘We believe this would combine the best elements of public ownership with private sector efficiency.’
      • ‘Dundee Partnership is yet to finalise the plans, but is in pursuit of funding from private and public bodies.’
      • ‘Privatised industries must be returned to public ownership with no compensation for speculative gains.’
      • ‘This applies whether the developer is a private developer or a public body.’
      • ‘The government is hostile to public ownership and holds private business in utter reverence.’
      • ‘It is a great opportunity to defend public services against the privatisers.’
      • ‘For years, this country has spent far too little on our public services.’
      • ‘They said it was sometimes easier for women to progress in the public rather than private sector.’
      • ‘Then attention shifted to a relentless focus on levels of government spending on public services.’
      • ‘Why get your procedure done in a public hospital rather than a private clinic?’
      • ‘These buildings are private properties, but public money is being spent.’
      • ‘This time the SNP is emphasising better public services rather than the cost of delivering them.’
      • ‘We want to end privatisation and bring services back into public ownership.’
      • ‘Money, I may add, that could have been spent on improving public services.’
      • ‘It will be a supreme test of the virtues of public ownership over privatisation.’
      • ‘It's a serious argument over whether to increase spending on public services or to lift people out of poverty.’
      state, national, federal, government
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    3. 1.3Of or involved in the affairs of the community, especially in government.
      ‘his public career was destroyed by tenacious reporters’
      • ‘And second, the public career of one of the country's most formidable politicians.’
      • ‘It helps women to achieve their full potential in their careers and public lives.’
      • ‘She'd say she turned her back on a public career very deliberately.’
      • ‘When he was defeated a second time in 1979, it looked as though his career in Welsh public life was at an end.’
      • ‘More and more of my students seek careers in lobbying and public affairs from the get go.’
      prominent, well known, in the public eye, leading, important, eminent, pre-eminent, recognized, distinguished, notable, noteworthy, noted, outstanding, foremost, of mark
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    4. 1.4Known to many people; famous.
      ‘a public figure’
  • 2Done, perceived, or existing in open view.

    ‘he wanted a public apology in the Wall Street Journal’
    ‘we should talk somewhere less public’
    • ‘Which soap actor made a public apology for exposing himself on the internet?’
    • ‘In my view, this public distaste for Charles is to do with his behaviour, not his position.’
    • ‘It is the attempt to exclude such views from acceptable public discourse that is anti-democratic.’
    • ‘He seems to have a strategy, but it is one that he does not seem to have laid open for public view and debate.’
    • ‘Do we really gain anything from barring extreme points of view from public discourse?’
    known, widely known, overt, plain, obvious, in circulation, published, publicized, exposed
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  • 3British Of, for, or acting for a university.

    ‘public examination results’
    • ‘We also need to bear in mind that most US students still go to public universities.’
    • ‘In the public universities the government is planning to impose fees on students.’
    • ‘The plan will go back before councillors and may also be put through a public examination process before being finalised.’
    • ‘In fact public universities, as a result, have had to raise their tuitions dramatically.’
    • ‘Like most public institutions the university has not escaped the effects of neo-liberalism.’


  • 1[treated as singular or plural] Ordinary people in general; the community.

    ‘the library is open to the public’
    ‘the public has made an informed choice’
    • ‘The central question under section 41 is the risk to the public from serious harm.’
    • ‘Most members of the general public would regard them as stiff or rigid.’
    • ‘An official opening will be held tomorrow night before it opens to the general public again on Saturday.’
    • ‘The course is suitable and worthwhile for all members of the general public.’
    • ‘The final phase of the project will consist of competitions open to the general public.’
    • ‘The letters of the alphabet ought to, and should, be open to the general public for use.’
    • ‘Regrettably, the general public is almost totally unaware of this important research.’
    • ‘Such relationships are often maintained at the expense of the voters and the general public.’
    • ‘Police have now turned to the public for help over the August 27 attack.’
    • ‘The museum will open to the general public when all school appointments are finished.’
    • ‘Apart from which, they were enormously popular with the general public.’
    • ‘Members of all denominations and the general public are invited to attend the Legacy service.’
    • ‘Is it going to be about informing the public of the dangers?’
    • ‘Public history also sought to enhance communication between historians and the general public.’
    • ‘Yet the greatest prize was informing the public on matters of world interest.’
    • ‘Often the mainstream media have done more to mislead than to inform the public on the issues behind the protests.’
    • ‘Many experts have thus given up the attempt to communicate with the general public.’
    • ‘However, he reassured his constituents and the general public that he had no such intention.’
    • ‘I cite these examples to illustrate the controlled ignorance of the general public at that time.’
    • ‘The news networks picked up the story and asked the public for help.’
    people, citizens, subjects, general public, electors, electorate, voters, taxpayers, ratepayers, residents, inhabitants, citizenry, population, populace, community, society, country, nation, world
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    1. 1.1[with adjective or noun modifier]A section of the community having a particular interest or connection.
      ‘the reading public’
      • ‘The British travelling public is the most resilient in the world.’
      • ‘At some stage he noticed that illiteracy was far greater amongst the seeing than the reading public.’
      • ‘Whether these developments increased the reading public is another matter.’
      • ‘York amateur boxing is poised to leap up from the canvas again - but it needs support of the city's sporting public.’
      • ‘Ivory is now out of fashion due to conservationist efforts to educate the buying public.’
      • ‘And one which drew the applause, I think, of all major sections of the sporting publics of the world who were watching it.’
      • ‘He is no longer one of that select group of monarchs in whom the reading or viewing public is thought to be interested.’
      • ‘How far are you willing to accommodate the reading public in its need for good entertainment?’
      • ‘It also provides a place for me to share what I write with a reading public.’
      • ‘This was guaranteed to win the support of the animal-loving British public.’
      • ‘This feeds the idea of the Internet audience as a participatory, democratic public.’
      • ‘The American viewing public's interest is a powerful force in the future of the Games.’
      • ‘The various publics, having other interests or no inclination toward foreign matters short of war, tended toward apathy.’
      • ‘Perhaps filmmakers today think the viewing public is too stupid to understand political issues.’
      • ‘The idea of multiple publics blurs - or, worse, dodges - the issue of what we ought to be doing in the academy, the issue being to my mind how we ought to try to think about the public as a unifiable but not now unified field.’
      • ‘Like the rest of the reading public, I have grown used to waiting for her.’
      • ‘Frankly, it may be complex to give a round up of all this to the French reading public, but we hope to be able to do that.’
      • ‘They sell better because the reading public feels it is getting value for money.’
      • ‘Inspiringly, it was a venture that went down well with the reading public.’
      • ‘The Victorian reading public had an insatiable appetite for this kind of fiction.’
      body of support, backing, patronage
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    2. 1.2The people who watch or are interested in an artist, writer, or performer.
      ‘some famous last words to give my public’
      • ‘It's a strange but pleasant feeling, meeting one's public for the first time.’
      • ‘Suddenly, as if on cue, he straightened his shoulders and walked downstage to greet his public.’
      • ‘I descend to greet my public at 11 pm and am able to scrutinize at least 6 different chins and sets of grinning teeth at close quarters.’
      audience, spectators, concertgoers, theatregoers, followers, following, fans, devotees, aficionados, admirers
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  • go public

    • 1Become a public company.

      • ‘Similarly, we see lots of unformed companies go public at rather extraordinary valuations.’
      • ‘For others, it means going public and answering to shareholders.’
      • ‘There is the potential to grow rapidly, and if you do, getting bought out or going public are distinct possibilities.’
      • ‘There will also be some franchises that ultimately will go public.’
      • ‘Absolutely everything was accelerated, from hiring to going public.’
      • ‘Investors don't get their money out until the partnership liquidates or goes public, which typically doesn't happen for 10 to 15 years.’
      • ‘And not only are more money-losing companies going public, initial valuations can be distinctly frothy.’
      • ‘Still, why would Seagate consider going public with tech valuations so low?’
      • ‘Also on the agenda will be how to accelerate sales of the government's stakes in public companies and allowing insurers to go public.’
      • ‘Other Irish agencies went public, and mergers and acquisitions abounded.’
    • 2Reveal details about a previously private concern.

      ‘Bates went public with the news at a press conference’
      • ‘His ex-wife went public with her shocking health secret on this very show.’
      • ‘Coalition MPs were briefed at a special meeting called just before the Prime Minister went public with his plans to strengthen counter-terrorism laws.’
      • ‘Let's see how this one runs, especially so shortly after the Cheif Constable went public with his suspicions!’
      • ‘Wilson, now retired, was so appalled at the administration's misuse of a discredited story that he went public with his information.’
      • ‘And people are wondering why I went public with this!’
      • ‘Over the past few days, since I went public with my complaints concerning the casino, I have been swamped with phone calls regarding the actions I took.’
      • ‘He went public with his diagnosis of lung cancer last week.’
      • ‘Recently, you went public with a very personal struggle that you had with eating disorders.’
      • ‘The couple went public with their relationship back in April.’
      • ‘But it picked up Lee's cause as soon as the government went public with its outrageous actions.’
  • in public

    • In view of other people; when others are present.

      ‘men don't cry in public’
      • ‘He is not seen much in public these days and his views on the situation are not known.’
      • ‘He added that no decision had been made yet on whether to ban smoking in public.’
      • ‘You expect to be ticked off from time to time if you venture your views in public.’
      • ‘That gave Aitken confidence to talk in public about justice and honour when he knew he was lying.’
      • ‘No doubt when the current government falls, there will be dirty linen washed in public.’
      • ‘He is a man who speaks reluctantly, at least in public, of disappointment and griefs.’
      • ‘So we were not used to seeing strong men crying in public, and not at all sure how to react when we did.’
      • ‘When I am out in public and light up I abide by and respect the rules of wherever I am.’
      • ‘If this is how some people behave in public, Heaven only knows how they carry on in their own homes.’
      • ‘He says in public what other MPs say in private, which confers upon him a kind of immunity.’
      publicly, in full view of people public, in full view of the public, openly, in the open, for all to see, undisguisedly, blatantly, flagrantly, brazenly, with no attempt at concealment, overtly, boldly, audaciously, unashamedly, shamelessly, unabashed, wantonly, immodestly
      coram populo
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  • the public eye

    • The state of being known or of interest to people in general, especially through the media.

      ‘the pressures of being constantly in the public eye’
      • ‘The committees performed well in bringing information about these cases to the public eye.’
      • ‘A hive of activity is taking place away from the public eye at the new Commonwealth Games stadium.’
      • ‘People in the public eye could learn a thing or two from the princess.’
      • ‘She urged celebrities and people in the public eye not to wear fur as this can lead to fashion trends being set.’
      • ‘I will be in the public eye and will have to hold myself and behave in a manner becoming of that position.’
      • ‘He shied away from the public eye in the months leading up to the conference.’
      • ‘But it is time now to draw back from treating him as a public spectacle and let him fight his demons out of the public eye.’
      • ‘You don't have to be a politician or a person in the public eye to gain media attention.’
      • ‘Make periodic withdrawals from the public eye with consequent eagerly anticipated comebacks.’
      • ‘Growing up in the public eye certainly accelerated the maturing process.’
      the spotlight, the limelight, the glare of publicity, prominence
      the focus of interest, the focus of attention
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Late Middle English: from Old French, from Latin publicus, blend of poplicus of the people (from populus people) and pubes adult.