Meaning of public school in English:

public school

Pronunciation /ˌpʌblɪk ˈskuːl/

Translate public school into Spanish


  • 1(in the UK) a private fee-paying secondary school, especially one for boarders.

    ‘they didn't go to public school’
    • ‘his precise English public-school accent’
    • ‘Perhaps some of our celluloid images and commemorations should acknowledge those pilots who could barely speak English, far less muster a public-school accent.’
    • ‘The arrival of this ruddy-faced giant, with his public-school accent and naive confidence, proved a turning point.’
    • ‘With his slicked-back hair, evening dress and dark three-piece suits for daywear, he looks like a cross between a minor public-school housemaster and Count Dracula on Temazepam.’
    • ‘She might ride her own horse, play the cello and have a public-school education, but she is as lost and mixed-up as her new-found friend.’
  • 2(chiefly in North America) a school supported by public funds.

    ‘Charter schools receive formula-driven tax funds just like public schools.’
    • ‘Children are now encouraged to join public schools and funds are sought for the school fees.’
    • ‘This doesn't include the property taxes they pay which go directly to funding public schools.’
    • ‘For example, it is possible to invest directly in people through funds for public schools.’
    • ‘Our public schools are locally funded, with decisions made at the state and local level.’


Late 16th century from Latin publica schola, denoting a school maintained at the public expense; in England public school (a term recorded from 1580) originally denoted a grammar school under public management, founded for the benefit of the public (contrasting with private school, run for the profit of the proprietor); since the 19th century the term has been applied to the old endowed English grammar schools, and newer schools modelled on them, which have developed into fee-paying boarding schools.