Definition of “public” - English Dictionary

“public” in English

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uk /ˈpʌb.lɪk/ us /ˈpʌb.lɪk/

public adjective (PEOPLE)

B2 relating to or involving people in general, rather than being limited to a particular group of people:

Public opinion (= the opinions of most people) has turned against him.
Is it really in the public interest (= useful to people) to publish this information?
We need to increase public awareness of the disease.
Peaceful demonstrations that do not cause a public nuisance (= do not harm other people) are a fundamental right in any truly democratic country.
The government has had to bow to public pressure on the issue.
The information only became public after his death.
The results will not be made public (= told to everyone) until tomorrow.

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publicnoun [ U, + sing/pl verb ]

uk /ˈpʌb.lɪk/ us /ˈpʌb.lɪk/
the public

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B1 all ordinary people:

The public has a right to know about this.
The palace and its grounds are open to the public (= people can visit) during the summer months.
When will the product be available to the general public (= all ordinary people)?
Members of the public were asked about their shopping habits.

the group of people who are involved with you or your organization, especially in a business relationship:

Newspapers publish these outrageous stories because they know what their public wants.
in public

B2 in a place where people can see you:

I'd never behave like that in public.

(Definition of “public” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“public” in American English

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us /ˈpʌb·lɪk/

public adjective (INVOLVING PEOPLE)

[ not gradable ] relating to or involving people in general, rather than being limited to a particular group of people:

public opinion
They’re trying to raise public awareness of the benefits of early-childhood education.
His ideas have very little public support.
The results won’t be made public (= told to people in general).

public adjective (OPEN)

allowing anyone to see or hear what is happening:

a public performance
a public display of temper
in public

Something done in public is done where anyone can see or hear it:

He was afraid to be seen in public for some time after the incident.

public adjective (BY THE GOVERNMENT)

[ not gradable ] involving or provided by the government, usually for the use of anyone:

a public park
public housing

[ not gradable ] Public also means supported by government funds, sometimes also by money given by private citizens:

publicnoun [ U ]

us /ˈpʌb·lɪk/

public noun [ U ] (PEOPLE)

all the people, esp. all those in one place or country:

The park is open to the public from sunrise to sunset.

The public is also the people who do not belong to a particular group or organization:

The book is not yet available to the general public.

Your public is the people involved with you or your organization, esp. in a business relationship:

The newspapers publish the stories they know their public wants to read.

(Definition of “public” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

“public” in Business English

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uk /ˈpʌblɪk/ us

relating to ordinary people in general, rather than being limited to a particular group only:

Proper archiving and preservation will ensure permanent public access to government information.
They are trying to get public support for their takeover bid.
Senior politicians have been accused of failing to act in the public interest.

GOVERNMENT relating to the government and to the services it provides to people:

She has said repeatedly that she would not seek public office again.
Why should public money be pumped into companies geared to profit?
The OECD is encouraging member states to keep a watchful eye on public finances, in part by encouraging more efficiency in the health care system of individual countries.

known about by people in general:

The retailer has been working to improve its public image in the face of ongoing criticism.
The question of bonus payments to bankers has been the subject of much public discussion in recent times.

available for anyone to hear, watch, go to, or be involved in:

The company is holding a public meeting tonight to describe the proposal to residents.

available for everyone to use:

a public telephone/library
public transport

STOCK MARKET, FINANCE available to be bought by everyone, not just by people who are already shareholders:

Class A shares may be purchased at the public offering price.
go public

STOCK MARKET a company that goes public makes shares available on a stock market for the first time:

After going public last May at $20 per share, they traded as high as $86 in October.
in public

if something is done or said in public, everyone knows or hears about it:

These are issues that should be discussed in public.
make (sth) public

to say or publish something in order that everyone knows or hears about it:

The annual financial disclosure report was made public yesterday.


uk /ˈpʌblɪk/ us
the public

ordinary people in general:

The role of watchdogs is to protect the public.
Air traffic controllers, baggage handlers, and members of the public were called to give evidence after a major security lapse at one of Europe's busiest airports.
the viewing/voting/investing, etc. public

all the people who are involved in or affected by a particular activity:

A recent TV documentary about mutual fund investments raised the awareness of the investing public about fund fees.

(Definition of “public” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)