Etymology
Advertisement
public (adj.)

late 14c., publike, "open to general observation," from Old French public (c. 1300) and directly from Latin publicus "of the people; of the state; done for the state," also "common, general, of or belonging to the people at large; ordinary, vulgar," and as a noun, "a commonwealth; public property." This Latin word was altered (probably by influence of Latin pubes "adult population, adult;" see pubis) from Old Latin poplicus "pertaining to the people," from populus "people" (see people (n.)).

Attested in English from early 15c. as "of or pertaining to the people at large" and from late 15c. as "pertaining to public affairs." The meaning "open to all in the community, to be shared or participated in by people at large" is from 1540s in English. An Old English adjective in this sense was folclic. The sense of "done or made by or on behalf of the community as a whole" is by 1550s; that of "regarding or directed to the interests of the community at large, patriotic" is from c. 1600.

Public relations "the management of the relationship between a company or corporation and the general public" is recorded by 1913 (with an isolated use by Thomas Jefferson in 1807). Public office "position held by a public official" is from 1821; public service is from 1570s; public interest "the common well-being" is from 1670s. Public enemy, one considered a nuisance to the general community, is attested from 1756. Public sector attested from 1949. Public funds (1713) are the funded debts of a government.

Public woman "prostitute" is by 1580s, on the notion of "open for the use of all." For public house, see pub.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
speaker (n.)
c. 1300, "one who speaks," agent noun from speak (v.). Similar formation in Old Frisian spreker, Old High German sprahhari, German Sprecher. First applied to "person who presides over an assembly" c. 1400, from similar use in Anglo-French (late 14c.) in reference to the English Parliament; later extended to the U.S. House of Representatives, etc. The electric amplifier so called from 1926, short for loud-speaker.
Related entries & more 
public (n.)

"the general body of people constituting a nation, state, or community; the nation or state," 1610s, from public (adj.); the meaning "people in general" is from 1660s. In public "in open view, publicly, before the people at large" is attested from c. 1500.

Related entries & more 
loud-speaker (n.)
also loudspeaker, "device for amplifying sound using an electric current," 1898, from loud (adj.) + speaker (n.).
Related entries & more 
public school (n.)

1570s, originally, in Britain, "a grammar school endowed for the benefit of the public," but most have evolved into boarding-schools for the well-to-do. From public (adj.) + school (n.1). The main modern meaning in U.S., "school (usually free) provided at public expense and run by local authorities," is attested from 1640s. 

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
public-mindedness (n.)

"disposition to promote the public interest, public spirit," 1690s, from public (adj.) in the sense of "directed to the interests of the community at large."

Related entries & more 
public-spirited (adj.)

"having a disposition to promote the interests or advantage of a community," 1670s, from public (adj.) in the sense of "directed to the interests of the community at large." Related: Public-spiritedness.

Related entries & more 
John Q. Public (n.)
"imaginary average American citizen," 1934; the Q perhaps suggested by John Quincy Adams.
Related entries & more 
debutant (n.)

1824, "male performer or speaker making his first public appearance," from French debutant, noun use of present participle of débuter "to make the first strike" (in billiards, etc.), from debut (see debut).

Related entries & more 
heckler (n.)
mid-15c., "one who uses a heckle" (late 13c., as a surname, Will. le Hekelere), agent noun from heckle (v.). Sense of "audience member that taunts a public speaker" is from 1885. Fem. form hekelstere is attested from c. 1500.
Related entries & more