noun, plural peoples for 4.
persons indefinitely or collectively; persons in general: to find it easy to talk to people; What will people think?
persons, whether men, women, or children, considered as numerable individuals forming a group: Twenty people volunteered to help.
human beings, as distinguished from animals or other beings.
the entire body of persons who constitute a community, tribe, nation, or other group by virtue of a common culture, history, religion, or the like: the people of Australia; the Jewish people.
the persons of any particular group, company, or number (sometimes used in combination): the people of a parish; educated people; salespeople.
the ordinary persons, as distinguished from those who have wealth, rank, influence, etc.: a man of the people.
the subjects, followers, or subordinates of a ruler, leader, employer, etc.: the king and his people.
the body of enfranchised citizens of a state: representatives chosen by the people.
a person's family or relatives: My grandmother's people came from Iowa.
(used in the possessive in Communist or left-wing countries to indicate that an institution operates under the control of or for the benefit of the people, especially under Communist leadership): people's republic; people's army.
animals of a specified kind: the monkey people of the forest.
verb (used with object), peopled, peopling.
to furnish with people; populate.
to supply or stock as if with people: a meadow peopled with flowers.

1225–75; Middle English peple < Anglo-French poeple, Old French pueple < Latin populus. See popular

peopleless, adjective
peopler, noun
outpeople, verb (used with object), outpeopled, outpeopling.
underpeopled, adjective
well-peopled, adjective

individual, party, people, person (see usage note at party)(see usage note at the current entry)(see synonym study at person).

4. See race2.

People is usually followed by a plural verb and referred to by a plural pronoun: People are always looking for a bargain. The people have made their choice. The possessive is formed regularly, with the apostrophe before the -s: people's desire for a bargain; the people's choice. When people means “the entire body of persons who constitute a community or other group by virtue of a common culture, history, etc.,” it is used as a singular, with the plural peoples: This people shares characteristics with certain inhabitants of central Asia. The aboriginal peoples of the Western Hemisphere speak many different languages. The formation of the possessive is regular; the singular is people's and the plural is peoples'.
At one time, some usage guides maintained that people could not be preceded by a number, as in Fewer than 30 people showed up. This use is now unquestionably standard in all contexts. Unabridged


a human being, whether man, woman, or child: The table seats four persons.
a human being as distinguished from an animal or a thing.
Sociology. an individual human being, especially with reference to his or her social relationships and behavioral patterns as conditioned by the culture.
Philosophy. a self-conscious or rational being.
the actual self or individual personality of a human being: You ought not to generalize, but to consider the person you are dealing with.
the body of a living human being, sometimes including the clothes being worn: He had no money on his person.
the body in its external aspect: an attractive person to look at.
a character, part, or role, as in a play or story.
an individual of distinction or importance.
a person not entitled to social recognition or respect.
Law. a human being (natural person) or a group of human beings, a corporation, a partnership, an estate, or other legal entity (artificial person or juristic person) recognized by law as having rights and duties.
Grammar. a category found in many languages that is used to distinguish between the speaker of an utterance and those to or about whom he or she is speaking. In English there are three persons in the pronouns, the first represented by I and we, the second by you, and the third by he, she, it, and they. Most verbs have distinct third person singular forms in the present tense, as writes; the verb be has, in addition, a first person singular form am.
Theology. any of the three hypostases or modes of being in the Trinity, namely the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
be one's own person, to be free from restrictions, control, or dictatorial influence: Now that she's working, she feels that she's her own person.
in person, in one's own bodily presence; personally: Applicants are requested to apply in person.

1175–1225; Middle English persone < Latin persōna role (in life, a play, or a tale) (Late Latin: member of the Trinity), orig. actor's mask < Etruscan phersu (< Greek prósōpa face, mask) + -na a suffix

multiperson, adjective
superperson, noun

individual, party, people, person (see usage note at party)(see usage note at people)(see synonym study at the current entry).

1. Person, individual, personage are terms applied to human beings. Person is the most general and common word: the average person. Individual views a person as standing alone or as a single member of a group: the characteristics of the individual; its implication is sometimes derogatory: a disagreeable individual. Personage is used (sometimes ironically) of an outstanding or illustrious person: We have a distinguished personage visiting us today.

See individual, party, people, they. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
people (ˈpiːpəl)
n , peoples
1.  persons collectively or in general
2.  a group of persons considered together: blind people
3.  the persons living in a country and sharing the same nationality: the French people
4.  one's family: he took her home to meet his people
5.  persons loyal to someone powerful: the king's people accompanied him in exile
6.  the people
 a.  the mass of persons without special distinction, privileges, etc
 b.  the body of persons in a country, esp those entitled to vote
7.  (tr) to provide with or as if with people or inhabitants

person (ˈpɜːsən)
n , pl persons
1.  an individual human being
2.  the body of a human being, sometimes including his or her clothing: guns hidden on his person
3.  a grammatical category into which pronouns and forms of verbs are subdivided depending on whether they refer to the speaker, the person addressed, or some other individual, thing, etc
4.  a human being or a corporation recognized in law as having certain rights and obligations
5.  philosophy a being characterized by consciousness, rationality, and a moral sense, and traditionally thought of as consisting of both a body and a mind or soul
6.  archaic a character or role; guise
7.  in person
 a.  actually present: the author will be there in person
 b.  without the help or intervention of others
usage  People is the word usually used to refer to more than one individual: there were a hundred people at the reception. Persons is rarely used, except in official English: several persons were interviewed

Person (ˈpɜːsən)
Christianity any of the three hypostases existing as distinct in the one God and constituting the Trinity. They are the First Person, the Father, the Second Person, the Son, and the Third Person, the Holy Ghost

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1275, "humans, persons in general," from Anglo-Fr. people, O.Fr. peupel, 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.

early 13c., from O.Fr. persone "human being" (12c., Fr. personne), from L. persona "human being," originally "character in a drama, mask," possibly borrowed from Etruscan phersu "mask." This may be related to Gk. Persephone. The use of -person to replace -man in compounds and avoid alleged sexist connotations
is first recorded 1971 (in chairperson). Personify first recorded 1727. Personable "pleasing in one's person" is first attested early 15c. In person "by bodily presence" is from 1560s. Person-to-person first recorded 1919, originally of telephone calls.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

person per·son (pûr'sən)

  1. A living human.

  2. The composite of characteristics that make up an individual personality; the self.

  3. The living body of a human.

  4. Physique and general appearance.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

person definition

An inflectional form (see inflection) of pronouns and verbs that distinguishes between the person who speaks (first person), the person who is spoken to (second person), and the person who is spoken about (third person). The pronoun or verb may be singular or plural. For example:

first person singular: I walk.
second person singular: you walk.
third person singular: he/she/it walks.
first person plural: we walk.
second person plural: you walk.
third person plural: they walk.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with people, also see tell (people) apart.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
The concept of companies as people became ever more vital as capitalism
Instead, they were interested in the types of superstitions that people think
  bring them good luck.
He wakes up in heaven, where a succession of five people are waiting to show
  him the true meaning and value of his life.
The poorest people are not only poor.
Idioms & Phrases
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