DEFINITION of 'Public'

A reference to anything that can be possessed or freely researched by any person or group of people in the general population. The term public is most commonly used to describe a company's shares or any other type of financial instrument that trades in the secondary markets. In other words, any securities that trade on an exchange and can be bought or sold by anyone in the general population are referred to as publicly traded securities.


There are thousands of companies that have shares and financial products that are available to be bought or sold by the public. These companies must file reports that meet the strict requirements of the Securities And Exchange Commission. As a result of the requirements and regulations, public companies tend to be more transparent and subject to much more public scrutiny than private companies.

  1. Stock Market

    The market in which shares of publicly held companies are issued ...
  2. Peter Principle

    An observation that in an organizational hierarchy, every employee ...
  3. Securities And Exchange Commission ...

    A government commission created by Congress to regulate the securities ...
  4. Initial Public Offering - IPO

    The first sale of stock by a private company to the public. IPOs ...
  5. Private Company

    A company whose ownership is private. As a result, it does not ...
  6. Public Company

    A company that has issued securities through an initial public ...
Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    Investors Need to Stop Shorting GoPro. Here's Why

    Discover why investors should stop shorting GoPro. GoPro has been one of the fastest-growing companies since 2005 with many betting against more growth.
  2. Retirement

    IPO Basics Tutorial

    What's an IPO, and how did everybody get so rich off them during the dotcom boom? We give you the scoop.
  3. Options & Futures

    Terrorism's Effects on Wall Street

    Terrorist activity tends to have a negative impact on the markets, but just how much? Find out how to take cover.
  4. Investing Basics

    Understand How the Stock Market Works

    Learn what it means to own stocks and shares, why shares exist, and how you buy and sell them.
  5. Investing Basics

    3 Key Signs Of A Market Top

    When stocks rise or fall, the financial fate of investors change, as well. There are certain signs that can reveal a stock’s course, and investors don’t need to be experts to spot them.
  6. Investing

    Asset Manager Ethics: Rules Governing Capital Markets

    The integrity of the capital markets needs to be kept at utmost importance for all investors. This article shows how to maintain the integrity while investing.
  7. Investing News

    Understand the SEC Rules on Equity Crowdfunding

    The SEC's adoption of equity crowdfunding rules, initiated under the JOBS Act, enables small investors to invest in companies that show early potential.
  8. Investing Basics

    Tax-Efficient Strategies For International Clients

    In a globalized world, international clients seek to diversify holdings by accessing U.S. markets. Creative strategies will help optimize tax positioning.
  9. Investing Basics

    What Happens in a Haircut?

    One meaning of haircut is the difference between prices at which a market maker can buy and sell a security.
  10. Investing Basics

    Understanding the Spot Market

    A spot market is a market where a commodity or security is bought or sold and then delivered immediately.
  1. How does privatization affect a company's shareholders?

    The most recognized transition between the private and public markets is an initial public offering (IPO). Through an IPO, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What's the difference between publicly- and privately-held companies?

    Privately-held companies are - no surprise here - privately held. This means that, in most cases, the company is owned by ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What does 'going public' mean?

    Going public refers to a private company's initial public offering (IPO), thus becoming a publicly traded and owned entity. ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Why would a corporation issue convertible bonds?

    A convertible bond represents a hybrid security that has bond and equity features; this type of bond allows the conversion ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between shares outstanding and floating stock?

    Shares outstanding and floating stock are different measures of the shares of a particular stock. Shares outstanding is the ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between market risk premium and equity risk premium?

    The only meaningful difference between market-risk premium and equity-risk premium is scope. Both terms refer to the same ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  2. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  3. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  4. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
  5. Monetary Policy

    Monetary policy is the actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory committee that determine the size and ...
  6. Indemnity

    Indemnity is compensation for damages or loss. Indemnity in the legal sense may also refer to an exemption from liability ...
Trading Center