The term public school has two contrary meanings:
- In common British usage, a school open to the public that charges fees and is financed by bodies other than the state, commonly as a private charitable trust; here the word "public" is used much as in "public telephone". See public school (UK).
- In the United States and most other English-speaking nations, a school which does not charge tuition fees but is financed and controlled by the government, in contrast to a private school (also known as an independent school); here the word "public" is used used much as in "public library", i.e. to mean "provided to the public at public expense."