Definition of public school in English:

public school

Line breaks: pub¦lic school


1(In the UK) a private fee-paying secondary school, especially one for boarders: [as modifier]: his precise English public-school accent
More example sentences
  • Perhaps some of our celluloid images and commemorations should acknowledge those pilots who could barely speak English, far less muster a public-school accent.
  • The arrival of this ruddy-faced giant, with his public-school accent and naive confidence, proved a turning point.
  • With his slicked-back hair, evening dress and dark three-piece suits for daywear, he looks like a cross between a minor public-school housemaster and Count Dracula on Temazepam.
2(Chiefly in North America) a school supported by public funds.
More example sentences
  • Charter schools receive formula-driven tax funds just like public schools.
  • Children are now encouraged to join public schools and funds are sought for the school fees.
  • This doesn't include the property taxes they pay which go directly to funding public schools.


late 16th century: from Latin publica schola, denoting a school maintained at the public expense; in England public school (a term recorded from 1580) originally denoted a grammar school under public management, founded for the benefit of the public (contrasting with private school, run for the profit of the proprietor); since the 19th century the term has been applied to the old endowed English grammar schools, and newer schools modelled on them, which have developed into fee-paying boarding schools.

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