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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 classic literature ?
Though it was anything but a hot day, Mr Meagles was in a heated state that attracted the attention of the passersby; more particularly as he leaned his back against a railing, took off his hat and cravat, and heartily rubbed his steaming head and face, and his reddened ears and neck, without the least regard for public opinion.
You wouldn't suppose him to be a public offender; would you?'
The moment he addresses himself to the Government, he becomes a public offender!
Its theoretical substructure is nourished by the thesis that the public, once thought of as an inclusive social body, has been splintered into partial publics.
Such a process is probably true, but this essay moves beyond gentility to argue that the spatial resources made available by the building of eighteenth-century mansions permitted the formation of multiple gendered publics. It assumes that colonial mansions were both mirrors of and metaphors for colonial society and asks what publics were created through differential access to and use of space, how these publics bound people together into both more local and more widespread communities of interest and ultimately power, and how these publics became more gendered over time.
Nearly all public relations professionals deal with a variety of publics, but that is especially true in the case of Chris Mitchell, director of the department of development and public affairs at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
"In trying to improve the reputation relationships of an institution with its various publics, it helps to give a face to that institution.
Of the PR professionals we queried, the overwhelming majority cited a need for public relations practitioners to shift from serving as implementers and technicians to being active policymakers who help client companies determine the needs of their different publics and select the best techniques and tools for achieving their public relations goals.
An organization that practices public relations strategically develops programs to communicate with the publics, both external and internal, that provide the greatest threats to and opportunities for the organization.
Public relations/communication management is the "management of communication between an organization and its publics." He says his combined term makes it broader than simply communication.
Regardless of the structure that health care reform imposes, health care providers at the local level will be confronted with several strategic planning areas that will require greater public accountability in the next five years.
The beginning of private support for American public libraries was usually attributed to John Harvard when he bequeathed some 300 volumes from his private library to a struggling colonial college which today is, of course, Harvard University.