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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 ?
Martin shows how a dissenting mode, rather than validating partisanship and defending special interests, could be useful in bringing the citizenry back to republican principles and "universal truths." To this reviewer, Martin's insightful account of these four brilliant appeals for and to a public-spirited citizenry (remarkably successful, too) reveal Madison as an implicit believer in universal republican principles.
Councillors were supposed to be public-spirited amateurs.
That's all changed as recent disaster victims comprehend the value of the help created for them by four of the country's public-spirited organizations.
Bahar rightly categorizes this as Wollstonecraft's attempt to create an aesthetic representation of a public-spirited woman.
For a few short months, America felt more united and public-spirited than it had in decades.
(Recruiting volunteers is a lucrative business.) The only clue that the site may not be public-spirited: At the bottom of the Home Page, in tiny print, are the words "Copyright W3Commerce, Inc." (W3Commerce of San Diego, California, manages Web sites for drug and food companies.)
Web sites, columns, and op-eds are not substitutes for a more aggressive, public-spirited GLBT journalism.
"Save the Redwoods!" became the slogan for the small but energetic group of public-spirited citizens.
The public-spirited quartet has been recruited to work at Kinver, near Stourbridge.
NEW YORK Six networks -- NBC, TNT, Nickelodeon, BET, TV and Canada's YTV -- have agreed to schedule a simulcast of the National Basketball Assn.'s annual "NBA Team-Up Celebration 2000" special honoring 200,000 public-spirited teens.
Public-spirited contributors apparently retaliate against exploiters in the only way available to them--by withdrawing their contributions, even knowing that they will probably end up with less money than if they gritted their teeth and continued to pay into the public fund.
Some 75 percent of SCA's funding is provided by conservation agencies; a healthy membership base of 23,000 and contributions from public-spirited corporations and foundations make up the balance.