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[[File:|thumb|250px|People at a Dutch train station]]

The English noun people (singular "person") refers to a plurality of human beings. It has two usages:

Because the word people often refers to abstract and general types of groups, the word persons is sometimes used in place of people, especially when it would be ambiguous with its collective sense (e.g. missing persons instead of people). It can collectively refer to all humans or it can be used to identify a certain ethnic or religious group. For example, "people of color" is a phrase used in North America to describe non-whites.[1]


In philosophy and theory

The concept of personhood (who is a person within a society) is the fundamental component of any selective concept of people. A distinction is maintained in philosophy and law between the notions "human being", or "man", and "person". The former refers to the species, while the latter refers to a rational agent (see, for example, John Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding II 27 and Immanuel Kant's Introduction to the Metaphysic of Morals). Central issues of interest to people are the understanding of the human condition and the meaning of life, and survival. Religion, philosophy, and science show or represent modes and aspects of inquiry which attempt to investigate and understand the nature, behavior, and purpose of people. Sociology, economics, and politics represent modes by which people investigate how to maximize a collective survival strategy.[citation needed]

In politics

by Eugène Delacroix]] Various republics govern, or claim to govern, in the name of the people. Both the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire used the Latin term Senatus Populusque Romanus, (the Senate and People of Rome). This term was fixed to Roman legionary standards, and even after the Roman Emperors achieved a state of total personal autarchy, they continued to wield their power in the name of the Senate and People of Rome. A People's Republic is typically a Marxist or socialist one-party state that claims to govern on behalf of the people. Populism is another umbrella term for various political tendencies that claim to represent the people, usually with an implication that they serve the common people instead of the elite.

In law

In criminal law, in certain jurisdictions, criminal prosecutions are brought in the name of the People. Several U.S. states, including California, Illinois, and New York, use this style.[2] Citations outside the jurisdictions in question usually substitute the name of the state for the words "the People" in the case captions.[3] Four states — Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky — refer to themselves as the Commonwealth in case captions and legal process.[4] Other states, such as Indiana, typically refer to themselves as the State in case captions and legal process. The political theory underlying this format is that criminal prosecutions are brought in the name of the sovereign; thus, in these U.S. states, the "people" are judged to be the sovereign, even as in the United Kingdom and other dependencies of the British Crown, criminal prosecutions are typically brought in the name of the Crown. "The people" identifies the entire body of the citizens of a jurisdiction invested with political power or gathered for political purposes.[5]

See also

People portal


  1. ^ Safire, William. "On language: People of color" The New York Times, November 20, 1988. See also: "The Black Press at 150", editorial, The Washington Post, March 18, 1977
  2. ^ See, e.g., California v. Anderson 6 Cal. 3d 628; 493 P.2d 880; 100 Cal. Rptr. 152; 1972 Cal. LEXIS 154 (1972)
  3. ^ See generally, The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, rule 10.
  4. ^ See Commonwealth (United States)
  5. ^ Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed., "People".


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Most common English words: here « thought « found « #140: people » still » just » while


From Middle English peple, peeple, from Anglo-Norman people, from Old French pueple, peuple, pople (modern French peuple), from Latin populus "people", of unknown origin. Probably of non-Indo-European origin, from Etruscan. Gradually ousted native Middle English lede, leed "people" (from Old English lēode).

Originally a singular noun (eg. The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness --2 Samuel 17:29, King James Version), the plural aspect of people is due to influence from Middle English lede, leed, a plural since Old English times (cf Old English lēode "people, men, persons", plural of Old English lēod "man, person").




plural common noun and collective noun (plural peoples)

people (plural common noun and collective noun (plural peoples))

  1. used as plural of person; a body of human beings considered generally or collectively; a group of two or more persons.
    • 1813, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice:
      "What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy! There is nothing like dancing after all. I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished society."
  2. (plural peoples) Persons forming or belonging to a particular group, such as a nation, class, ethnic group, country, family, etc; folk; community.
  3. A group of persons regarded as being employees, followers, companions or subjects of a ruler.
  4. One's colleagues or employees.
    • 2001, Vince Flynn, Transfer of Power, p. 250:
      Kennedy looked down at Flood's desk and thought about the possibilities. "Can you locate him?" "I already have my people checking on all [it]."
    • 2008, Fern Michaels, Hokus Pokus‎, p. 184:
      Can I have one of my people get back to your people, Mr. President?" She tried to slam the phone back into the base and failed.
  5. A person's ancestors, relatives or family.
    My people lived through the Black Plague and the Thirty Years War.
  6. The mass of a community as distinguished from a special class (elite); the commonalty; the populace; the vulgar; the common crowd; the citizens.


Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


to people

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to people (third-person singular simple present peoples, present participle peopling, simple past and past participle peopled)

  1. (transitive) To stock with people or inhabitants; to fill as with people; to populate.
  2. (intransitive) To become populous or populated.
  3. (transitive) To inhabit; to occupy; to populate.
    • a. 1645, John Milton, Il Penseroso, lines 7–8:
      [] / As thick and numberless / As the gay motes that people the Sun Beams, / []

Derived terms

  • peopler


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


  • people in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913


Alternative spellings

  • pipole


  • IPA: /pi.pɔl/


From English people.


people m. (plural peoples)

  1. (countable) A celebrity, a famous person.
    • 2004, Emmanuel Davidenkoff and Didier Hassoux, Luc Ferry: une comédie du pouvoir, 2002–2004 (Luc Ferry: A Comedy of Power, 2002–2004), Hachette, ISBN 9782012357785,
      Le novice en politique contre le mammouth « Éducation nationale ». Ça mérite la sympathie. Et puis c’est un people. Les gens aiment et détestent à la fois. Ils sont fascinés. Le bonheur sur papier glacé. Les vacances entre Saint-Trop’, la Martinique et Deauville.
      The political novice against the mammoth "National Education". That merited sympathy. Then, too, he was a celebrity. People loved and hated at the same time. They were fascinated. Happiness on ice paper. Vacations between Saint-Tropez, Martinique, and Deauville.
    • 2008, Martine Delvaux, "L’égoïsme romantique de Frédéric Beigbeder" ("Frédéric Beigbeder's L’égoïsme romantique (Romantic Egotism)"), in Alain-Philippe Durand (editor), Frédéric Beigbeder et ses doubles (Frédéric Beigbeder and His Doubles), Rodopi, ISBN 978-90-420-2472-4, page 95:
      Oscar Dufresne est un people anti-people, un macho impuissant, un intellectuel qui ne dit rien d’intelligent, un faux sadique et un faux masochiste, un anti-autobiographe.
      Oscar Dufresne is a celebrity who is anti-celebrity, a powerless macho man, an intellectual who says nothing intelligent, a fake sadist and a fake masochist, an anti-autobiographer.

Usage notes

  • The French noun people is frequently italicized as a loanword, as in the quotations above.


Derived terms

  • pipolisation

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