people

people, persons
Both words have been in use for several centuries to denote the plural of person, the difference usually being explained in terms of people referring to a group of which the exact number cannot be determined or is irrelevant and persons to a number of individuals who are countable or regarded separately:

• A great many people feel that a hug can make their day —Chicago Tribune, 1991

• It is morally certain that a number of persons signed confessions to crimes of which they were innocent —K. Lindsay, 1980.

However, this distinction is not watertight, as the following examples show:

• Persons may squat in buildings by reason of inability to find other accommodation —Oxford Companion to Law, 1980

• It now numbers some 40 people, as well as the Jersey cows, the Aberdeen Angus bull, the horse, three ponies, and a handful of fecund goats and breeding sows —Country Living, 1991.

To judge from the recent evidence, the distinction is based as much on context as on meaning, with people used as the general word and persons used in more formal contexts (e.g. law) and to emphasize individuality. The plural Persons (and generally not People) also occurs in compound forms such as barpersons, chairpersons, spokespersons, and other gender-neutral forms. An exception is sportspeople, which is typically treated collectively in usage.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • People — Peo ple, n. [OE. peple, people, OF. pueple, F. peuple, fr. L. populus. Cf. {Populage}, {Public}, {Pueblo}.] 1. The body of persons who compose a community, tribe, nation, or race; an aggregate of individuals forming a whole; a community; a nation …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • People — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda People es una revista estadounidense de carácter semanal, que trata acerca de las celebridades e historias de interés general, publicada por Time Inc. En 2006, tenía una tirada de 3.750.000 ejemplares e ingresos… …   Wikipedia Español

  • People — Специализация: Знаменитости Периодичность …   Википедия

  • people — [ pipɶl ] adj. inv. et n. m. inv. • 1988; mot angl., de people journalism, genre journalistique ♦ Anglic. 1 ♦ Presse, magazine people, qui traite des vedettes, des personnalités (notamment de leur vie privée). 2 ♦ N. m. inv. Célébrité recherchée… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • People (EP) — People Extended Play von Animal Collective Veröffentlichung 23. Oktober 2006 (Australien) 22. Januar 2007 (UK) 23. Januar 2007 (US) Aufnahme 2005 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • people — [pē′pəl] n. pl. peoples [ME peple < Anglo Fr poeple, people < OFr pople < L populus, nation, crowd < ?] 1. a) all the persons of a racial, national, religious, or linguistic group; nation, race, etc. [the peoples of the world] b) a… …   English World dictionary

  • People — (von engl. people „Volk“, „Leute“) ist eine wöchentlich erscheinende US amerikanische Zeitschrift. Das Magazin wurde von Time Warner als Auslagerung der People Seite im Time Magazine herausgebracht und erscheint seit 1974. Die Zeitschrift… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • People — also People Magazine trademark a US magazine that contains short articles and pictures of famous people, especially people who appear on television and in films or sports people People 2 People, The trademark a British ↑tabloid newspaper sold… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • people — I noun citizenry, commonality, community, community at large, country, cultures, general public, humanity, inhabitants, multitude, nation, national group, nationality, persons, populace, population, race, society, state II index community, family …   Law dictionary

  • people — late 13c., humans, persons in general, from Anglo Fr. people, O.Fr. peupel, from L. populus people, of unknown origin, possibly from Etruscan. Replaced native FOLK (Cf. folk). Meaning body of persons comprising a community first recorded late 13c …   Etymology dictionary

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