• Popular


    • UK IPA: /ˈpÉ’pjÊŠlÉ™/
    • US IPA: /ˈpÉ‘pjÉ™ləɹ/


    From Latin populāris, from populus ("people") + -āris ("-ar").

    Full definition of popular



    1. Common among the general public; generally accepted. from 15th c.
      • 2007, Joe Queenan, The Guardian, 23 Aug 2007:Contrary to popular misconception, MacArthur Park is not the worst song ever written.
    2. (legal) Concerning the people; public. from 15th c.
    3. Pertaining to or deriving from the people or general public. from 16th c.
      • 1594, Richard Hooker, Preface:At the coming of Calvin thither, the form of their civil regiment was popular, as it continueth at this day: neither king, nor duke, nor nobleman of any authority or power over them, but officers chosen by the people out of themselves, to order all things with public consent.
      • 2009, Diarmaid MacCulloch, A History of Christianity, Penguin 2010, p. 645:Luther in popular memory had become a saint, his picture capable of saving houses from burning down, if it was fixed to the parlour wall.
      • 2009, Graham Smith, The Guardian, letter, 27 May 2009:Jonathan Freedland brilliantly articulates the size and nature of the challenge and we must take his lead in setting out a radical agenda for a new republic based on the principle of popular sovereignty.
    4. (obsolete) Of low birth, not noble; vulgar, plebian. 16th-17th c.
      • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, II.17:Popular and shallow-headed mindes, cannot perceive the grace or comelinesse, nor judge of a smooth and quaint discourse.
    5. Aimed at ordinary people, as opposed to specialists etc.; intended for general consumption. from 16th c.
      • 2009, ‘Meltdown’, The Economist, 8 Apr 2009:As a work of popular science it is exemplary: the focus may be the numbers, but most of the mathematical legwork is confined to the appendices and the accompanying commentary is amusing and witty, as well as informed.
    6. (obsolete) Cultivating the favour of the common people. 16th-18th c.
    7. Liked by many people; generally pleasing, widely admired. from 17th c.
      • 2006, w, Internal Combustion Chapter 2, The popular late Middle Ages fictional character Robin Hood, dressed in green to symbolize the forest, dodged fines for forest offenses and stole from the rich to give to the poor. But his appeal was painfully real and embodied the struggle over wood.
      • 2011, The Observer, 2 Oct 2011:They might have split 24 years ago, but the Smiths remain as popular as ever, and not just among those who remember them first time around.
      • 2013-03, David S. Senchina, Athletics and Herbal Supplements, Athletes' use of herbal supplements has skyrocketed in the past two decades. At the top of the list of popular herbs are echinacea and ginseng, whereas garlic, St. John's wort, soybean, ephedra and others are also surging in popularity or have been historically prevalent.
    8. Adapted to the means of the common people; cheap. from 19th c.

    Derived terms

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