When would be the best usage of those words? When do we do/don't use it? What is the message conveyed when we use Populace/Population; People/Mass; Mass/Public?

1.Populace vs Population

2.People vs Mass

3.Mass vs Public


1.The 'Populace' means:

According to Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary: [Formal] the ordinary people who live in a particular country or place (there is no entry for only 'populace' word)

According to online vocabulary.com : People in general considered as a whole [Usage History] Populace, in its original use, was a negative way of referring to ordinary people, as opposed to rich, privileged, or royal people. A king might try to understand the mindset of the populace, but it's likely that he had no idea what their lives were really like. Populace can also be a neutral term that refers to a group of people living in a particular place

My question: Is it true that the 'Populace' brings negative connotation and nuance when used compared to the 'Population' which both refers to the People lives in a particular place?

2.Population means: According to Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary: -All the people living in a particular country, area, or place. According to online vocabulary.com: Population means the number of people in a geographic area. It can also be used for subgroups of people or animals.

1.n the people who inhabit a territory or state 2.n (statistics) the entire aggregation of items from which samples can be drawn

3.People vs Mass


According to CAL:

a.Men, women, and children b.Used to refer to everyone, or informally to the group that you are speaking to. c.Men and women who are involved in a particular type of work

According to online vocabulary.com:

Human beings are people. Individuals, folks, humankind — we're all people. 1.(plural) any group of human beings (men or women or children) collectively 2.the body of citizens of a state or country 3.the common people generally 4.members of a family line

Speaking about people, I recall the term 'Folks' and 'Kins' where it is associated more to closer people (who has familial relationship).


CAL: the masses: the ordinary people who form the largest group in a society. online vocabulary: the common people generally (a crowd of mass?)


CAL: (Noun) -> the public: all ordinary people. Online vocabulary: people in general considered as a whole

What about if we want to convey the meaning of each person in a 'people' community? What word would you use?

I'm not English native speaker, but I am keen to comprehend English language 'feeling' (I love languages!) and right now is writing formal paper containing these terms. Any of your help/answer/comment is greatly appreciated!

  • From this excerpt of Zibaldone Book (from Italian writer):
    – Flonne
    Nov 17, 2015 at 14:58
  • Whereas in fact, as we have seen, it is not literature that is wholly subordinated to the populace but the populace to literature, and it is the common people that serves and ministers to literature, and not literature the common people.
    – Flonne
    Nov 17, 2015 at 14:58
  • Hello, Flonne. The questions are related, so you may get away with asking them together. Looking up 'populace' in various quality dictionaries, I find that the compilers differ as to which sense is found more commonly in their corpus samples, and on whether they should define one sense as 'the general public [unmarked]; the masses [hint of negative flavour; note that the plural noun is used here] or as [R H K Webster's] 'the common people as distinguished from the higher classes' [certainly pejorative]. I'd just say it's rarely used. Nov 17, 2015 at 16:17
  • "The People vs Mass" is the famous legal decision where Massachusetts sued itself -- and lost.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 22, 2015 at 14:12

1 Answer 1


My question: Is it true that the Populace brings negative connotation and nuance when used compared to the Population which both refers to the People lives in a particular place?

"Populace" is quite condescendent (showing that you believe you are more intelligent or better than others) and refers to the lower class by opposition to the elite.

"Population" has an administrative or social connotation and refers to persons living in a specific place (city, country) or belonging to particular catégories, e.g. farm population, foreign workers population.

What about if we want to convey the meaning of each person in a people' community? What word would you use?

You may refer to a "community member" or use words depending on the type of community:

  • for a city or a state: citizen,
  • for a religion: coreligionist,
  • for a company: coleague,
  • ...


Besides belonging to "mass media" expression, "mass" is often used in a political context to evoke the majority of the population (mainly working classes and poor people).

Example: Mass culture is the set of ideas and values that develop from a common exposure to the same media, news sources, music, and art. Mass culture is broadcast or otherwise distributed to individuals instead of arising from their day-to-day interactions with each other. Thus, mass culture generally lacks the unique content of local communities and regional cultures.


The noun "public" is generally used when people is the target of something or someone, e.g. news, discurse, artist performance, opening hours of a place or a service, ... .

Public is often a synonym of audience, e.g. for a speech, a show or a TV programm.

Example: The Championship was followed by a public of wrestling connoisseurs and fanatics.

  • Thank you for your reply, Graffito. Do you have any other example for Mass and Public?
    – Flonne
    Nov 22, 2015 at 13:16
  • Public Transit and Mass Transit seem to be used interchangeably. Dec 25, 2015 at 16:45

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