the common people of a community, nation, etc., as distinguished from the higher classes.
all the inhabitants of a place; population.

1565–75; < French < Italian popolaccio, equivalent to popol(o) people + -accio pejorative suffix

populace, population, populous.
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World English Dictionary
populace (ˈpɒpjʊləs)
1.  the inhabitants of an area
2.  the common people; masses
[C16: via French from Italian popolaccio the common herd, from popolo people, from Latin populus]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1572, from M.Fr. populace, from It. popolaccio "riffraff, rabble," from popolo "people" (from L. populus "people") + pejorative suffix -accio.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The entire populace had poured out into the streets to gaze up in wonder at
  what was happening above them.
Our national populace is more diverse across the board than any nation in the
Repressive governments try to keep the populace happy with bread and circuses.
They are used to control the populace by instilling terror.
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