Date: 1400-1500
Language: French
Origin: publique, from Latin publicus, probably from poplicus, from populus 'people'; influenced by pubes 'adult' ( PUBES)


1 adjective
Related topics: Government, Citizenship
pub‧lic1 S1 W1

ordinary people

[only before noun]PGC relating to all the ordinary people in a country, who are not members of the government or do not have important jobs:
We have to show that publishing this story is in the public interest (=helpful or useful to ordinary people).
Public opinion is gradually shifting in favor of the imprisoned men.
There was a public outcry (=display of anger by a lot of people) about the shooting.

for anyone

[only before noun] available for anyone to use [≠ private]:
a public telephone
a public footpath
proposals to ban smoking in public places
a public library
full public access to information
public transport British English /public transportation American English (=buses, trains etc)


[only before noun]PG relating to the government and the services it provides for people [≠ private]:
the Government's public spending plans
We do not believe he is fit for public office (=a job in the government).
efforts to control public expenditure
public funding for the arts
public service

known about

known about by most people:
Details of the highly sensitive information have not been made public.
It is a job that brings him constantly into the public eye (=seen or heard a lot on television, radio etc).
Although not a public figure (=famous person), he was a man of great influence.

not hidden

intended for anyone to know, see, or hear [≠ private]:
Today the school finds itself in the midst of a very public debate.
public display of grief/affection etc (=showing your emotions so that everyone can see)
She was acutely embarrassed by his public display of temper.
There will be a public inquiry into the sinking of the oil tanker.

place with a lot of people

a public place usually has a lot of people in it [≠ private]:
Let's go somewhere less public where we can talk.

public life

work that you do, especially for the government, that makes you well-known to many people:
Howard seems to have retired from public life.

public image

the public image of a famous person or organization is the character or attitudes that most people think they have
public image of
attempts to improve the public image of the police

go public

a) to tell everyone about something that was secret
go public on/with
The planners are almost ready to go public on the road-building scheme.
b) PEBBC to become a public company:
Many partnerships went public in the 1980s to secure extra capital.

public appearance

a visit by a famous person in order to make a speech, advertise something etc:
She is paid £10,000 for the briefest of public appearances.

public property

a) something that is provided for anyone to use, and is usually owned by the government:
The army was called out to protect public property.
b) something that everyone has a right to know about:
Our lives seem to have become public property.

public enemy number one

SCC the criminal, problem etc that is considered the most serious threat to people's safety:
Drugs have become public enemy number one.

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