ap·​pa·​rat·​chik | \ ˌä-pə-ˈrä(t)-chik How to pronounce apparatchik (audio) \
plural apparatchiks also apparatchiki\ ˌä-​pə-​ˈrä(t)-​chi-​kē How to pronounce apparatchik (audio) \

Definition of apparatchik

1 : a member of a Communist apparat
2 : a blindly devoted official, follower, or member of an organization (such as a corporation or political party) a movie studio apparatchik

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In the context of the definition of "apparatchik" (a term English speakers borrowed from Russian), "apparat" essentially means "party machine." An "apparatchik," therefore, is a cog in the system of the Communist Party. The term is not an especially flattering one, and its negative connotations reflect the perception that some Communists were obedient drones in the great Party machine. In current use, however, a person doesn't have to be a member of the Communist Party to be called an "apparatchik"; he or she just has to be someone who mindlessly follows orders in an organization or bureaucracy.

Examples of apparatchik in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But many Cubans say that Mr. Díaz-Canel, a longtime party apparatchik, lacks the charisma and mystique of the generation of revolutionary leaders who came to power with brothers Fidel and Raúl Castro. Santiago Pérez, WSJ, 12 July 2021 The 89-year-old is expected to be replaced by his handpicked successor, President Miguel Díaz-Canel, a longtime party apparatchik. José De Córdoba, WSJ, 16 Apr. 2021 Lyuda, the confused apparatchik who goes along with the new regime’s suppression, is affectingly personified by Vysotskaya, who resembles a conscientious version of comedienne Chelsea Handler. Armond White, National Review, 24 Feb. 2021 The putative Democratic nominee, popular with the Party establishment, was a courtly apparatchik named H. Carl McCall. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, 12 Oct. 2020 Through her decades-long career in government, Lam has excelled at pleasing those above her, swiftly transitioning from a hardworking colonial subject during British rule to China’s loyal apparatchik. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, 18 June 2020 Too many of its officials have become political apparatchiks, fearful of making decisions that anger their superiors and too removed and haughty when dealing with the public to admit mistakes and learn from them. New York Times, 10 Mar. 2020 The entire Giuliani-Ukraine affair is only the latest example of a White House apparatchik who’s willing to sell out his country’s interests for an electoral advantage necessary to sustain the grift. Casey Michel, The New Republic, 2 Oct. 2019 In the Polish People’s Republic, verdicts were routinely dictated by a phone call from an apparatchik at party headquarters. The Economist, 23 Jan. 2020

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

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First Known Use of apparatchik

1941, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for apparatchik

Russian, from apparat

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The first known use of apparatchik was in 1941

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Last Updated

21 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Apparatchik.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of apparatchik

disapproving : a very loyal member of an organization (such as a company or political party) who always obeys orders

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