American Dictionary of the English Language

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POP'ULAR, adjective [Latin popularis. See People.]

1. Pertaining to the common people; as the popular voice; popular elections.

So the popular vote inclines.

2. Suitable to common people; familiar; plain; easy to be comprehended; not critical or abstruse.

Homilies are plain and popular instructions.

3. Beloved by the people; enjoying the favor of the people; pleasing to people in general; as a popular governor; a popular preacher; a popular ministry; a popular discourse; a popular administration; a popular war or peace. Suspect the man who endeavors to make that popular which is wrong.

4. Ambitious; studious of the favor of the people.

A popular man is in truth no better than a prostitute to common fame and to the people.

[This sense is not used. It is more customary to apply this epithet to a person who has already gained the favor of the people.]

5. Prevailing among the people; extensively prevalent; as a popular disease.

6. In law, a popular action is one which gives a penalty to the person that sues for the same.

[Note. popular at least in the United States, is not synonymous with vulgar; the latter being applied to the lower classes of people, the illiterate and low bred; the former is applied to all classes, or to the body of the people, including a great portion at least of well educated citizens.]