Definition of people in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈpēpəl/

plural noun

1Human beings in general or considered collectively: the earthquake killed 30,000 people
More example sentences
  • He's a very strong personality, but he talks to people as human beings and he's very honest.
  • The Home Office had to treat these people as decent human beings and provide extra resources.
  • We may well decide that it was the most evil act ever perpetrated by human beings on fellow people.
human beings, persons, individuals, humans, mortals, (living) souls, personages, men, women, and children
informal folks
1.1 (the people) The citizens of a country, especially when considered in relation to those who govern them: his economic reforms no longer have the support of the people
More example sentences
  • It was designed to evolve, to live, and to breathe like the people that it governs.
  • The leaders rarely spoke like the people they governed and it was no disadvantage.
  • It is time somebody started to govern for the people than for their own place in history.
citizens, subjects, electors, voters, taxpayers, residents, inhabitants, (general) public, citizenry, nation, population, populace
1.2 (the people) Those without special rank or position in society; the populace: he is very much a man of the people
More example sentences
  • Our position is that the people of Edinburgh will take the decision in a referendum.
  • We think we provide an equitable service to all ranks and all the people we represent.
  • I am also aware of the plight of some of the people in the position she is talking about.
common people, proletariat, masses, populace, rank and file, commonality, plebeians
derogatory hoi polloi, rabble, riffraff, (great) unwashed, (common) herd, proles, plebs
humorous sheeple
historical third estate
1.3 (one's people) A person’s parents or relatives: my people live in West Virginia
family, parents, relatives, relations, folks, kinsmen, kin, kith and kin, kinsfolk, flesh and blood, nearest and dearest
1.4 (one's people) The supporters or employees of a person in a position of power or authority: I’ve had my people watching the house for some time now
More example sentences
  • The coaching staff consists of the team of people that is employed by the club to support the manager.
1.5 (the People) US The state prosecution in a trial: pretrial statements made by the People’s witnesses
More example sentences
  • Now, I have handed to your Honours the early United States case of People v Whipple.
  • Then the People's Justice Party had a meeting of 150 people, which was really good.
  • This tactic allows them to be on both sides of the issue and thus unaccountable to the People.
2 (plural peoples) [treated as singular or plural] The men, women, and children of a particular nation, community, or ethnic group: the native peoples of Canada
More example sentences
  • However, the nation's indigenous peoples have never tasted their share of Argentina's riches.
  • Ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples and tribal people everywhere face discrimination.
  • There is also an eloquent record of tribal history of the indigenous peoples of Alaska's ethnic Indian and Inuit population.
race, (ethnic) group, tribe, clan


[with object] (usually be peopled)
1(Of a particular group of people) inhabit (an area or place): an arid mountain region peopled by warring clans
More example sentences
  • The observances recognise that the island was peopled by different groups of Indians who had settled here over the 7000 years before the European encounter.
  • Remote and entirely dedicated to his craft, he lived in a world peopled by a few intimate friends, a world sealed to outsiders.
  • Yet, the first centralizing tendencies appeared only after skirmishes between Native Americans and settlers led colonial officials to consider peopling the region as a buffer to avoid further conflict.
populate, settle (in), colonize, inhabit, live in, occupy
formal reside in, be domiciled in, dwell in
1.1Fill or be present in (a place, environment, or domain): the street is peopled with ragamuffin hippies
More example sentences
  • The world peopled by signs of hope suddenly appears to be emptied of meaning.
  • What name do we have for such a horrible void that fills what was once peopled by the living?
  • But one must feel a certain pity for him, trapped in a farce of horrendous dialogue and flatlining humour, peopled by androgynous hippy beatniks who make one glad the sixties are dead.
1.2Fill (an area or place) with a particular group of inhabitants: it was his intention to people the town with English colonists
More example sentences
  • Obsessed with the sky, he watched the stars and the moon, peopling them with imaginary inhabitants.


See person (usage).



Pronunciation: /-ˌho͝od/
sense 2 of the noun.
Example sentences
  • Critics who deride Jewish dietary laws as arbitrary, repressive, or irrelevant ignore the power of this everyday tradition to preserve our peoplehood and deepen our humanity.
  • In retelling it we bring ourselves out from our own narrow places, to freedom, to peoplehood, to connection with God.
  • It is impossible to set up legitimate global authorities because there is no global democracy, no sense of common peoplehood and trust.


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French poeple, from Latin populus 'populace'.

  • People is from Anglo-Norman French poeple, from Latin populus ‘populace’, also the source of words such as population (mid 16th century); populace (late 16th century); and popular (Late Middle English) originally ‘prevalent among the general public’: with ‘liked and admired’ early 17th century. The phrase of all people expressing disbelief about somebody dates from the 1700s; the capitalized form in the phrase the People referring in US legal contexts to the State prosecution the People versus…dates from the early 19th century. See also public

Words that rhyme with people

peepul, steeple

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: peo·ple

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.