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publican

[puhb-li-kuh n] /ˈpʌb lɪ kən/
noun
1.
Chiefly British. a person who owns or manages a tavern; the keeper of a pub.
2.
Roman History. a person who collected public taxes.
3.
any collector of taxes, tolls, tribute, or the like.
Origin of publican
1150-1200
1150-1200; Middle English < Latin pūblicānus. See public, -an
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for publican

publican

/ˈpʌblɪkən/
noun
1.
(in Britain) a person who keeps a public house
2.
(in ancient Rome) a public contractor, esp one who farmed the taxes of a province
Word Origin
C12: from Old French publicain, from Latin pūblicānus tax gatherer, from pūblicum state revenues
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for publican
n.

c.1200, "tax-gatherer," from Old French publician (12c.), from Latin publicanus "a tax collector," noun use of an adjective, "pertaining to public revenue," from publicum "public revenue," noun use of neuter of publicus (see public (adj.)). Original sense in Matt. xviii:17, etc.; meaning "keeper of a pub" first recorded 1728, from public (house) + -an.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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publican in the Bible

one who farmed the taxes (e.g., Zacchaeus, Luke 19:2) to be levied from a town or district, and thus undertook to pay to the supreme government a certain amount. In order to collect the taxes, the publicans employed subordinates (5:27; 15:1; 18:10), who, for their own ends, were often guilty of extortion and peculation. In New Testament times these taxes were paid to the Romans, and hence were regarded by the Jews as a very heavy burden, and hence also the collectors of taxes, who were frequently Jews, were hated, and were usually spoken of in very opprobrious terms. Jesus was accused of being a "friend of publicans and sinners" (Luke 7:34).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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