Definition of publican in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpʌblɪk(ə)n/


1British A person who owns or manages a pub.
Example sentences
  • Food was not high on your average publican's agenda, nor was it high priority for his customers.
  • With the party season approaching, publicans, hoteliers and restaurateurs are anxious to win back custom from locals and tourists by softening the area's rowdy image.
  • Police officers, hoteliers, shopkeepers and publicans are also among those asked to brush up on their knowledge of Scotland's most famous poet.
1.1Australian A person who owns or manages a hotel.
Example sentences
  • Mary and her late husband Murph were the publicans at the Southland Hotel for about twenty years.
  • Dad received a phone call from the publican of the Empire Hotel on Monday morning, asking if any of his kids had lost a mobile.
  • Naturally, the drought also affected the nearby town of Kanyaka where D. Brown was the postmaster and Thomas Moyle the publican at the hotel.
2(In ancient Roman and biblical times) a collector or farmer of taxes: publicans and sinners
More example sentences
  • He is the same as He was when He received Mary Magdalene - called Matthew the publican - brought Zacchaeus down from the tree, and made them examples of what His grace could do.
  • Friend of publicans and sinners, you make the angels laugh and heaven rejoice.
  • Obviously, Paul is talking about sinners if they are not saved while Jesus is talking about those publicans and harlots that believed in him.


Middle English (in sense 2): from Old French publicain, from Latin publicanus, from publicum 'public revenue', neuter (used as a noun) of publicus 'of the people'. sense 1 dates from the early 18th century.

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