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Hi. The phrase 'to populate a form' is being used increasingly in my workplace. Please can someone tell me more about it, origins etc. and more importantly give me a solid foundation to argue the point that it shouldn't be used in a business environment. I absolutely loathe the term!


  • DavidCrosbieDavidCrosbie ✭✭✭
    edited February 2019

    @Island_girl, the OED shows a history leading to this use

    1b. fig. and in extended use: to fill, occupy.

    a1886 E. Dickinson Poems (1955) III. 1141 Populate with awe my solitude.
    a1914 J. P. Bourke Off Bluebush (1915) 156 Those tortured mental kinks That populate the upper end Of men who mix their drinks.
    1933 A. S. Eddington Expanding Universe iii. 109 We can..imagine space to be populated not only with real stars and galaxies but with ghosts of stars which existed 6000 million, 12000 million, etc. years ago.
    1967 Jrnl. Pediatrics 70 231/1 The thymus plays a major role in populating lymph nodes with lymphocytes during the early development of these organs.
    2004 .Net Christmas 72/2 There are some smart features such as the ability to populate text boxes with dummy text until you get round to writing the proper copy.

    That last quote appears to be from an IT periodical, and it may be relevant that there are similar technical uses in computing:

    1c. Computing.

    (a) To fill the sockets on (a circuit board) with components, esp. those which provide extra memory capacity. Also (of components): to occupy the sockets on (a circuit board).

    (b) To import data into (a database); to provide (a database) with content.

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