The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Public \Pub"lic\, a. [L. publicus, poblicus, fr. populus people:
cf. F. public. See People.]
1. Of or pertaining to the people; belonging to the people;
relating to, or affecting, a nation, state, or community;
-- opposed to private; as, the public treasury.
To the public good
Private respects must yield. --Milton.
He [Alexander Hamilton] touched the dead corpse of
the public credit, and it sprung upon its feet. --D.
2. Open to the knowledge or view of all; general; common;
notorious; as, public report; public scandal.
Joseph, . . . not willing to make her a public
example, was minded to put her away privily. --Matt.
3. Open to common or general use; as, a public road; a public
house. "The public street." --Shak.
public act or public statute (Law), an act or statute
affecting matters of public concern. Of such statutes the
courts take judicial notice.
Public credit. See under Credit.
Public funds. See Fund, 3.
Public house, an inn, or house of entertainment.
(a) See International law, under International.
(b) A public act or statute.
Public nuisance. (Law) See under Nuisance.
Public orator. (Eng. Universities) See Orator, 3.
Public stores, military and naval stores, equipments, etc.
Public works, all fixed works built by civil engineers for
public use, as railways, docks, canals, etc.; but
strictly, military and civil engineering works constructed
at the public cost.
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
n 1: a law affecting the public at large