n. pl. people
a. Humans considered as a group or in indefinite numbers. Often treated as a plural of person, alone and in compounds: People were dancing in the street. I met all sorts of people. This book is not intended for laypeople.
b. The mass of ordinary persons; the populace. Used with the: "those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes" (Thomas Jefferson).
a. A body of persons living in the same country under one national government; a nationality.
b. The citizens of a political unit, such as a nation or state; the electorate. Used with the.
3. pl. peo·ples A body of persons sharing a common religion, culture, or language: the peoples of central Asia.
a. Persons with regard to their residence, class, profession, or group: city people; farming people.
b. Persons subordinate to or loyal to a ruler, superior, or employer: The manager would like to introduce you to our people in the regional office.
c. A person's family, relatives, or ancestors: Where are your people from?
5. Informal Animals or other beings distinct from humans: Rabbits and squirrels are the furry little people of the woods.
tr.v. peo·pled, peo·pling, peo·ples
1. To settle or inhabit with people; populate.
2. To be present in or on (a place): "The stores ... are peopled by serious shoppers" (Perri Klass).
[Middle English peple, from Old French pueple, from Latin populus, of Etruscan origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.