Words related to people

folk (n.)

Old English folc "common people, laity; men; people, nation, tribe; multitude; troop, army," from Proto-Germanic *fulka- (source also of Old Saxon folc, Old Frisian folk, Middle Dutch volc, Dutch volk, Old High German folc, German Volk "people"). Perhaps originally "host of warriors:" Compare Old Norse folk "people," also "army, detachment;" and Lithuanian pulkas "crowd," Old Church Slavonic pluku "division of an army" (hence Russian polk "regiment"), both believed to have been borrowed from Proto-Germanic. Old English folcstede could mean both "dwelling-place" and "battlefield." According to Watkins, from PIE *ple-go-, suffixed form of root *pele- (1) "to fill," which would make it cognate with Greek plethos "people, multitude," and Latin plebes, "the populace, the common people." Boutkan thinks both the Germanic and Balto-Slavic could be a common borrowing from a substrate language.

Superseded in most senses by people. Generally a collective noun in Middle English, however plural folks is attested from 15c. Old English folc was commonly used in forming compounds (59 are listed in the Clark Hall dictionary), such as folccwide "popular saying," folcgemot "town or district meeting;" folcwoh "deception of the public." Modern use of folk as an adjective is from c. 1850 (see folklore).

repeople (v.)

also re-people, "to populate again, fill again with people," late 15c.; see re- "again" + people (v.). Related: Repeopled; repeopling.

populace (n.)

"the common people of a community, the multitude; persons not distinguished by rank, education, office, or profession," 1570s, from French populace (16c.), from Italian popolaccio "riffraff, rabble," from popolo "people" (from Latin populus "people;" see people (n.)) + pejorative suffix -accio.

That vast portion, lastly, of the working class which, raw and half-developed, has long lain half hidden amidst its poverty and squalor, and is now issuing from its hiding-place to assert an Englishman's heaven-born privilege of doing as he likes, and is beginning to perplex us by marching when it likes, meeting where it likes, bawling what it likes, breaking what it likes — to this vast residuum we may with great propriety give the name of Populace. [Matthew Arnold, "Culture and Anarchy," 1869]
popular (adj.)

early 15c., populer, "public, commonly known," from Old French populaire and directly from Latin popularis "belonging to the people, general, common; devoted to or accepted by the people; democratic," from populus "people" (see people (n.)).

Meaning "of or pertaining to the people; depending on the people," especially the common people, is from 1540s. Meaning "suited to ordinary people, easily comprehended" is from 1570s in English; hence, of prices, "low, affordable to average persons" (1859).

The meaning "well-liked, admired by or enjoying the favor of the people" is attested from c. 1600. Of art, entertainment, etc., "favored by people generally" from 1819 (popular song). Related: Popularly. Popular Front "coalition of Communists, Socialists, and radicals" is from 1936, first in a French context.

Popular sovereignty, in U. S. hist., the theory that the right to decide whether slavery should exist in a territory rested with the people of that territory, and not with Congress. It was advocated especially by Democrats during the period 1847-61, and its leading champion was Douglas. It was often termed "squatter sovereignty," with which it was nearly identical. [Century Dictionary]
populate (v.)

"to people, inhabit; form or furnish the population of a country, etc.," 1610s, from Medieval Latin populatus, past participle of populare "inhabit, to people," from Latin populus "inhabitants, people, nation" (see people (n.)). Earlier in English it was an adjective, "peopled, populated" (1570s). Related: Populated; populating.

population (n.)

1610s, "whole number of inhabitants in a country, state, county, town, etc," from Late Latin populationem (nominative populatio) "a people; a multitude," as if from Latin populus "a people" (see people (n.)). From 1776 as "act or process of peopling" (a country, etc.). Population explosion "rapid or sudden increase in the size of a population" is attested by 1953.


1892 (n.) "an adherent of populism," also (with capital P-), "a member of the Populist Party;" 1893 (adj.); American English, from Latin populus "people" (see people (n.)) + -ist. Originally in reference to the U.S. Populist Party (or People's Party), organized February 1892 to promote certain issues important to farmers and workers (expansion of the currency, state control of railways, and restriction on the ownership of land). The term outlasted the party, and by 1920s came to mean "representing the views of the masses" in a general way, and from the 1950s as "anti-establishment" on either the left or the right.

populous (adj.)

"having many inhabitants in proportion to the extent of the country," early 15c., from post-classical Latin populosus "full of people, populous," from populus "people" (see people (n.)). Related: Populously; populousness.

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.

pueblo (n.)

1808, "village, town, or inhabited place in Spanish America," from Spanish pueblo "village, small town; people, population," from Latin populum, accusative of populus "people" (see people (n.)). Especially as a name for more or less self-governing native peoples of Arizona and New Mexico living in communal villages, by 1834.