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Public schools' meaning in UK and in USA

A few days I go I looked it up in my dictionary what are the words used to name the schools that are financed by the state, and the information I found confused me a little. According to my dictionary, "public schools" means "state schools" in USA but "private schools" in UK. Is this right?

Thank you all in advance!

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language



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    Best Answer - Chosen by the Asker
    In England a public school is an expensive private school. Famous examples are Eton, Rugby, and Harrow. So 'public' = very private!!! So if someone says they went to a public school you know they have money and went to a private school!

    In England a school that is open to the public and free (and is therefore not private) is a state school.

    In the USA public schools are indeed public schools (state), and private schools are private schools.

    So it's America that is more logical!

    In England it's all because of the HISTORY of schools. Go back 500 years or so and there were schools that had 'public' support or control... these became the fee paying public schools.... and there were private schools that had no 'public' control. In those days 'state' schools did not exist. There were some free charitable institutions.

    There is still a sort of split between 'public' schools and 'private' schools... even though they are BOTH fee-paying private schools. When someone says "I went to a public school," you imagine Eton, Harrow, or one of the long-established (and expensive) schools. If someone says "I went to a private school" you imagine a school that is expensive, but does not have the long history of the 'public' private schools!

    It's a very British thing, and hard to explain. There's a lot of snobbery still around. I have friends who make sure people know they went to a public school, not just an ORDINARY private school!

    You know, as a child, I was confused by all this too!

    Yes. In the US public schools are run by the local government(or the state, in the case of colleges and universities) and students attend for free. UK public schools require fees and are private, independent schools.

    Yes, that is a strange and confusing difference between US and UK English language. In the US, public schools are the ones run by the town or city, that you can attend for free if you live in the area. But in the UK, public schools are the ones where you pay tuition and need to apply for admission.

    American public schools are places you shouldn't send your own children

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