Etymology
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policy (n.2)
Origin and meaning of policy

["written insurance agreement"], 1560s, "written contract to pay a certain sum on certain contingencies," from French police "contract, bill of lading" (late 14c.), from Italian polizza "written evidence of a transaction, note, bill, ticket, lottery ticket," from Old Italian poliza, which, according to OED, is from Medieval Latin apodissa "receipt for money," from Greek apodexis "proof, declaration," from apo- "off" + deiknynai "to show," cognate with Latin dicere "to say, speak" (from PIE root *deik- "to show," also "pronounce solemnly"). Also formerly a form of gambling, "the numbers game" (by 1830).

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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.

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policy (n.1)
Origin and meaning of policy

["way of management"], late 14c., policie, "study or practice of government; good government;" from Old French policie (14c.) "political organization, civil administration," from Late Latin politia "the state, civil administration," from Greek politeia "state, administration, government, citizenship," from politēs "citizen," from polis "city, state" (see polis).

From early 15c. as "an organized state, organized or established system of government or administration of a state," but this sense has gone with polity. Also from early 15c. as "object or course of conduct, or the principles to be observed in conduct," and thus "prudence or wisdom in action" generally, but especially "the system of measures or the line of conduct which a ruler, minister, government, or party adopts as best for the interests of the country in domestic or foreign affairs."

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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.

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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. 

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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."

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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.

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John Q. Public (n.)

"imaginary average American citizen," 1934; the Q perhaps suggested by John Quincy Adams.

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fluoridation (n.)

1904, "process of absorbing fluoride," from fluoride + -ation. In reference to adding traces of fluoride to drinking water as a public health policy, from 1949.

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Junius 

masc. proper name, from Latin Junius, name of a Roman gens. In U.S. history, the pseudonym of the author of a famous series of letters in the "Public Advertiser" from 1768-1772 critical of crown policy. Related: Junian.

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