When people live in or occupy a country, city, or town, they populate it. It doesn’t always refer to people — bugs might populate your kitchen if you leave half-eaten food out.

If your family lives alone on an island, you're the only people who populate it. You can also use this verb to mean "be present in," so you might say that vampires populate your favorite books, or that animated characters populate most of the movies you watch. Populate also means "fill in" in computing: "Will you populate that spreadsheet with data?" The Latin populus, or "people," is at the root of populate.

Definitions of populate

v inhabit or live in; be an inhabitant of

“deer are populating the woods”
dwell, inhabit, live
show 18 types...
hide 18 types...
occupy as a tenant
neighbor, neighbour
live or be located as a neighbor
lodge in, occupy, reside
live (in a certain place)
domicile, domiciliate, reside, shack
make one's home in a particular place or community
furnish with people
cause to have too great a population
cohabit, live together, shack up
share living quarters; usually said of people who are not married and live together as a couple
be a lodger; stay temporarily
bivouac, camp, camp out, encamp, tent
live in or as if in a tent
inhabit a nest, usually after building
board, room
live and take one's meals at or in
move in
occupy a place
live in the country and lead a rustic life
stay at
reside temporarily
occupy (a dwelling) illegally
sleep over, stay over
stay overnight
occupy, usually uninvited
marry or cohabit with a person of another race
Type of:
occupy a certain position or area; be somewhere

v fill with inhabitants

populate the forest with deer and wild boar for hunting”
fill with people
Type of:
fill, fill up, make full
make full, also in a metaphorical sense

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.