Definitions for publicanˈpʌb lɪ kən

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word publican

Princeton's WordNet

  1. publican, tavern keeper(noun)

    the keeper of a public house


  1. publican(Noun)

    the landlord of a public house

  2. publican(Noun)

    a tax collector in ancient Rome

Webster Dictionary

  1. Publican(noun)

    a farmer of the taxes and public revenues; hence, a collector of toll or tribute. The inferior officers of this class were often oppressive in their exactions, and were regarded with great detestation

  2. Publican(noun)

    the keeper of an inn or public house; one licensed to retail beer, spirits, or wine

  3. Origin: [L. publicanus: cf. F. publicain. See Public.]


  1. Publican

    In antiquity, publicans were public contractors, in which role they often supplied the Roman legions and military, managed the collection of port duties, and oversaw public building projects. In addition, they served as tax collectors for the Republic, bidding on contracts for the collection of various types of taxes. Importantly, this role as tax collectors was not emphasized until late into the history of the Republic. The publicans were usually of the class of equites. At the height of the Republic's era of provincial expansion the Roman tax farming system was very profitable for the publicani. The right to collect taxes for a particular region would be auctioned every few years for a value that approximated the tax available for collection in that region. The payment to Rome was treated as a loan and the publicani would receive interest on their payment at the end of the collection period. In addition, any excess tax collected would be pure profit for the publicani. The principal risk to the publicani was that the tax collected would be less than the sum bid.

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