[17] Latin rēspublica meant literally a ‘public matter’. It was a compound noun formed from rēs ‘thing, matter’ (source of English real) and publicus ‘public’ (source of English public). It was used as a term for the ‘state’ as governed by its people, and it was first taken over in English in the sense ‘state governed by elected representatives of the people, rather than by a king’ in the first decade of the 17th century. => PUBLIC, REAL
* * *
   The term ultimately goes back to Latin respublica, literally 'public thing,' from res, 'thing,' and publica, 'public.' The Roman republic was one in the modern sense, in that the supreme power rested with the people.

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.


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