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 apparatchiki (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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Did You Know?

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 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, "A Stubborn Leader, a Broken System," 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, "Coronavirus Crisis Shows China’s Governance Failure," 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, "How the NRA Sold Out America," 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, "Shackling judges Europe confronts Poland over its trampling on the rule of law," 23 Jan. 2020 Put yourself in the position of the party apparatchik. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Low turnout and polarization are a deadly combo for electoral stability," 25 Jan. 2020 Congressional leaders would want to be remembered as statesmen, not apparatchiks. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "The Hole in the Impeachment Case," 18 Jan. 2020 His father, Vitaliy, was a top Communist Party apparatchik in the city. Adam Entous, The New Yorker, "The Ukrainian Prosecutor Behind Trump’s Impeachment," 16 Dec. 2019 Mr Tokayev, 66, is a Soviet-era apparatchik who became foreign minister and prime minister after Kazakhstan became independent. The Economist, "Kazakhstan’s choreographed election goes off-script," 15 June 2019

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

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Apparatchik.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2020.

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How to pronounce apparatchik (audio)

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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