Public figure Definition & Meaning

Public figures are individuals with an unusual level of fame. Whether they are celebrities, athletes, politicians, or creators of popular brands, a public figure's popularity transcends the usual boundaries of their personal lives. Their presence and actions affect large communities of followers. As such, they often play an active role in public affairs. This article will define public figures and provide examples of some common types. If you have questions, feel free to contact us.

What does it mean to be a Public Figure?

A public figure is a person with a great deal of fame who is also involved in the affairs of the community. In today's world, things go viral very quickly, and a public figure's influence can short-circuit the process of becoming a politician.

Is becoming a public figure worth it?

Having a unique position and doing good in your community are some of the criteria for becoming a public figure. But remember that these are merely criteria and should not be the only defining factor.

The Times decision narrowed the public figure definition in several ways. While it narrowed the definition of a public figure, it still required that the defendant have a substantial risk of harming the public. The result is that the "public figure" standard is much less strict now than it was in the Times decision. States may now use simple negligence standards to determine whether a person is a public figure or not. These criteria are the same as those required for negligence in the case of an actor or actress.


In addition to the above definitions, some writers argue that a public figure is someone who answers to the expectations of the public.  Those who believe the same can be true of an aspiring public figure.