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As a noun, the whole body politic, or the aggregate of the citizens of a state, nation, or municipality. The community at large, without reference to the geographical limits of any corporation like a city, town, or county; the people.

As an adjective, open to all; notorious. Open to common use. Belonging to the people at large; relating to or affecting the whole people of a state, nation, or community; not limited or restricted to any particular class of the community.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1) n. the people of the nation, state, county, district or municipality, which the government serves. 2) adj. referring to any agency, interest, property, or activity which is under the authority of the government or which belongs to the people. This distinguishes public from private interests as with public and private schools, public and private utilities, public and private hospitals, public and private lands, and public and private roads.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

LAW, PUBLIC. A public law is one in which all persons have an interest.

POLICY, PUBLIC. By public policy is meant that which the law encourages for the promotion of the public good.
     2. That which is against public policy is generally unlawful. For example, to restrain an individual from marrying, or from engaging in business, when the restraint is general, in the first case, to all persons, and, in the second, to all trades, business, or occupations. But if the restraint be only partial, as that Titius shall not marry Moevia, or that Caius shall not engage in a particular trade in a particular town or, place, the restraint is not against public policy,, and therefore valid. 1 Story, Eq. Jur. Sec. 274. See Newl. Contr. 472.

PUBLIC. By the term the public, is meant the whole body politic, or all the citizens of the state; sometimes it signifies the inhabitants of a particular place; as, the New York public.
     2. A distinction has been made between the terms public and general, they are sometimes used as synonymous. The former term is applied strictly to that which concerns all the citizens and every member of the state; while the latter includes a lesser, though still a large portion of the community. Greenl. Ev. Sec. 128.
     3. When the public interests and its rights conflict with those of an individual, the latter must yield. Co. Litt. 181. if, for example, a road is required for public convenience, and in its course it passes on the ground occupied by a house, the latter must be torn down, however valuable it may be to the owner. In such a case both law and justice require that the owner shall be fully indemnified.
     4. This term is sometimes joined to other terms, to designate those things which have a relation to the public; as, a public officer, a public road, a public passage, a public house.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Already, the attentive reader may have sensed a difficulty, for public spirit is more a set of dispositions than mere behaviour and so, in a word, a sort of character.
But, at times, it borders on a defense of Congress and regulators, and it is hard to agree with Rom that the "public spirit perspective gives a better account" of the thrift tragedy than the "public choice" perspective (p.
DB would I regard as "Public Spirit", and he/she may be glad to know the persons recently pictured in your columns are contribute to other groups, which now continue to be available for public spirit of all ages and circumstances.
The public spirit that would encourage a person to put the interests of the community above his own has never been cultivated, let alone rewarded.
Manager, Olive Lowe, said: "There has always been a great public spirit in the city and by committing to fairness for local disabled people we are going to make it an even better place to live.
The House of Representatives on Thursday approved the creation of a special committee to discuss proposed legislation to amend the 1947 basic education law to stress public spirit and Japanese tradition.
'Very much of what is best, noblest, most beautiful, most intellectual in the world's history - in Greece, in Italy, in Germany, in England, in America, is bound up with the intense life of cities, with men's love for their city, with the public spirit of a city.
But the Welsh Blood Service needs 6,000 new donors and that means that it is no longer enough to rely on the public spirit of others.
Romantics on both the Jacobin left and the traditionalist right were inclined to view this new economy as a blight on the landscape and the soul alike, reducing workers to cogs and neighbors to strangers, throwing up a new and spiritually rootless elite of uncaring bourgeois, and replacing quondam public spirit and noble national purpose with a mere cash nexus.
The point I am making is that a sense of strong public spirit is the kind of thing that builds a strong community and this was very evident throughout the history of this small town.
I have no doubt the public and media will applaud them for their public spirit, so I await with interest to see who will set the ball rolling.
Detective Ian Bentham said: "We would like to thank the members of the public who showed great public spirit by coming to the aid of an elderly lady."