po·​lis | \ ˈpä-ləs How to pronounce polis (audio) \
plural poleis\ ˈpä-​ˌlās How to pronounce poleis (audio) \

Definition of polis

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a Greek city-state broadly : a state or society especially when characterized by a sense of community

Definition of -polis (Entry 2 of 2)

: city megalopolis

Examples of polis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Writing at the end of the first century, the Jewish historian Josephus described how the small fishing village of Bethsaida became a Greco-Roman city, or polis, during the reign of Philip the Tetrarch in A.D. 30. National Geographic, "The Real Story Behind the "House of Jesus' Apostles" Discovery," 7 Aug. 2017 In politics, how one leads the polis and how one manages the machinery of government are two distinct phenomena. Douglas Hess, Fortune, "Why Trump’s Management Style Doesn’t Work," 28 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'polis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of polis


1884, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for polis


Greek — more at police

Noun combining form

Late Latin, from Greek, from polis

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Time Traveler for polis

The first known use of polis was in 1884

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More from Merriam-Webster on polis

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with polis

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about polis

Comments on polis

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an act or instance of editing or removing

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