c.1275, "humans, persons in general," from Anglo-Fr. people,
from L. populus
"people," of unknown origin, possibly from Etruscan. Replaced native folk
. Meaning "body of persons comprising a community" first recorded 1292 in Anglo-Fr.; meaning "common people, masses" (as distinguished from the nobility) first recorded 1306 in Anglo-Fr. The verb is c.1489 (intrans.), c.1500 (trans.). The word was adopted after c.1920 by Communist totalitarian states to give a spurious sense of populism to their governments. Legal phrase The People vs.,
in U.S. cases of prosecution under certain laws, dates from 1801. People of the Book
"those whose religion entails adherence to a book of divine revelation (1834) translates Arabic Ahl al-Kitab.