- 1 [only before noun] connected with ordinary people in society in general The campaign is designed to increase public awareness of the issues. Levels of waste from the factory may be a danger to public health. Why would the closure of hospitals be in the public interest (= useful to ordinary people)? The government had to bow to public pressure. See related entries: Belonging to society for everyone
- 2 [only before noun] provided, especially by the government, for the use of people in general a public education system a public library opposite private of government
- 3 [only before noun] connected with the government and the services it provides public money/spending/funding/expenditure He spent much of his career in public office (= working in the government). (British English) the public purse (= the money that the government can spend) The rail industry is no longer in public ownership (= controlled by the government). opposite private seen/heard by people
- 4 known to people in general a public figure (= a person who is well known because they are often on the television, radio, etc.) Details of the government report have not yet been made public. She entered public life (= started a job in which she became known to the public) at the age of 25. This latest scandal will not have done their public image (= the opinion that people have of them) any good.
- 5 open to people in general; intended to be seen or heard by people in general a public apology The painting will be put on public display next week. This may be the band's last public appearance together. place
- 6 where there are a lot of people who can see and hear you Let's go somewhere a little less public. opposite private Word Origin late Middle English: from Old French, from Latin publicus, blend of poplicus
- 1to tell people about something that is a secret A court order failed to stop her going public with the story.
- 2(of a company) to start selling shares on the stock exchange
of ordinary people