cau·​cus | \ ˈkȯ-kəs How to pronounce caucus (audio) \

Definition of caucus

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a closed meeting of a group of persons belonging to the same political party or faction usually to select candidates or to decide on policy a presidential caucus also : a group of people united to promote an agreed-upon cause


caucused; caucusing; caucuses

Definition of caucus (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to meet in or hold a caucus The committee caucused to select the most promising candidates.

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Did You Know?


In February of 1763, John Adams reported that the Boston caucus club, a group of politically active city elders, would meet in the garret of Tom Dawes to choose Assessors, Collectors, Wardens, Fire Wards, and Representatives. He wrote that at the meetings, those present would smoke tobacco till you [could not] see from one end of the garret to the other. A similarly opaque smoke screen seems to shroud the history of the word caucus. Linguists can see that it is clearly an Americanism; Adams's use is the first known to link the word to such a political meeting. Beyond that, details are uncertain, but some scholars think caucus may have developed from an Algonquian term for a group of elders, leaders, or advisers.

Examples of caucus in a Sentence


the National Women's Political Caucus


Democrats caucused last week to choose their candidates.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Democratic caucuses for the 2020 election don't officially kick off until February 3 of next year, but even a year out, the race is already in full swing. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Presidential Candidates 2020: Here's Who's Running So Far," 25 Jan. 2019 But the caucus was split on whether to give that money to the school system or simply reduce the tax rate. Don Stacom, Courant Community, "New Britain Republicans, Democrats Exchange Criticism Over Budget Delay," 7 June 2018 The caucus held a press conference Wednesday morning to announce their launch. Dustin Gardiner, azcentral, "Is there a 'millennial' way to make laws? Arizona legislators form under-40 caucus," 18 Apr. 2018 Following a press conference at 8:30 a.m. in Room 1190 of the Capitol, the caucus will hold a day of informational hearings on the results of the report in Room 4202. Alexei Koseff, sacbee, "Armenian Genocide dispute brings California Legislature into global policymaking | The Sacramento Bee," 28 Feb. 2018 Each of the 10 Democratic senators, along with the entire party caucus, voted against the GOP tax cut measure Mr. Trump signed in December, a point Republican groups are using to overpower the Democrats' effort to appear above partisanship. CBS News, "Democrats in tough reelection battles distance themselves from Washington," 11 May 2018 The House, where Harris holds a leadership role as the head of the Republican caucus, already voted 74-23 for HB 662, which would affect how motor fuel can be priced. Julia O'donoghue,, "Louisiana House Republican chairman pushes bills to benefit gas stations, which he owns," 27 Apr. 2018 Only four of the Democratic debates were held before the Iowa caucuses and two of those debates were held on Saturday nights, when viewership is typically lower. Reid J. Epstein, WSJ, "Democratic Party to Hold First of 12 Televised Debates for 2020 Presidential Primaries in June," 20 Dec. 2018 The Iowa caucuses are well over a year away, but the New Jersey senator is working overtime to make an impression in Iowa and in other states that will be crucial to winning the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. Thomas Beaumont, The Seattle Times, "Eyeing White House, Cory Booker introduces himself to Iowa," 24 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats—comes as the nation’s largest companies have repurchased shares at a record pace that analysts attribute... Michael Wursthorn, WSJ, "Record Stock Buybacks Draw Fire From Democratic Presidential Hopefuls," 4 Feb. 2019 The 63-seat Senate is currently controlled by 31 Republicans and a rogue Democrat from Brooklyn who caucuses with the GOP. Jimmy Vielkind, WSJ, "Cuomo Stumps for Democrats in His Moderate Mold," 16 Oct. 2018 McCain reportedly wrote that his advisers warned him against picking her a vice-presidential candidate who caucused with Democrats. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "Sarah Palin responds to McCain's regrets revealed in new book," 11 May 2018 My guests this morning, Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma and Independent Senator Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with the Democrats. NBC News, "Meet the Press - June 24, 2018," 24 June 2018 Senator Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, a Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans, has also pushed to tie the armed-guards provision to the reauthorization of speed-safety cameras outside scores of New York City schools. New York Times, "Legislative Year Ends on Wednesday, Likely With a Whimper," 17 June 2018 Democrats also retained two state Senate seats, giving the party a 32-to-31 numerical advantage over Republicans in the state’s upper house, though one Democrat who caucuses with Republicans will continue to deny them a working majority. David Weigel, Washington Post, "Democrats flip 40th legislative race of Trump era, this time in New York," 25 Apr. 2018 Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats, endorsed Brent Welder for the Democratic nomination in Kansas’ 3rd congressional district. Bryan Lowry, kansascity, "Bernie Sanders wades into race against Yoder, endorses former delegate Welder," 25 June 2018 The House adjourned Wednesday morning and, after a round of committee hearings, House Republicans began caucusing outside of the Capitol to discuss the report. Anchorage Daily News, "Woman testifies that Greitens groped and hit her; Missouri governor blasts ‘lies’ and ‘tabloid trash’," 12 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'caucus.' 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 caucus


1760, in the meaning defined above


1788, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for caucus


origin unknown

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Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

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The first known use of caucus was in 1760

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English Language Learners Definition of caucus

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a meeting of members of a political party for the purpose of choosing candidates for an election
: a group of people (such as members of the U.S. Congress) who meet to discuss a particular issue or to work together for a shared, usually political goal



English Language Learners Definition of caucus (Entry 2 of 2)

US : to meet in a caucus


cau·​cus | \ ˈkȯ-kəs How to pronounce caucus (audio) \

Legal Definition of caucus

: a closed meeting of a group of persons belonging to the same political party or faction usually to select candidates or to decide on policy

Other Words from caucus

caucus intransitive verb

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More from Merriam-Webster on caucus

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with caucus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for caucus

Spanish Central: Translation of caucus

Nglish: Translation of caucus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of caucus for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about caucus

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