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

Noun the National Women's Political Caucus Verb Democrats caucused last week to choose their candidates.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The state Democratic party declared former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg the winner over the weekend, but the Associated Press refused to call the race due to errors in the caucus reporting process. Ramsey Archibald |, al, "Bernie Sanders has been unpopular in Alabama. Could that change?," 11 Feb. 2020 The state party apologized for technical glitches with an app that slowed down reporting of results from Monday’s caucuses and has spent the week trying to verify results. Tim Darnell, ajc, "‘We’re a party in chaos’ | Dems call for Tom Perez’s resignation after Iowa circus," 7 Feb. 2020 But the results in Iowa were muddied by the stunning breakdown of the caucus reporting process in a state that traditionally kicks off presidential nominating contests. Steve Peoples, Anchorage Daily News, "Buttigieg and Sanders nearly tied with almost all results tallied in Iowa Democratic caucuses," 6 Feb. 2020 But what didn’t fail those conservatives was the primary or caucus process. Jim Geraghty, National Review, "The Democratic Party Fails Its Voters," 6 Feb. 2020 The results followed 24 hours of chaos as technical problems marred the complicated caucus process, forcing state officials to apologize and raising questions about Iowa's traditional place atop the presidential primary calendar. Thomas Beaumont, Fortune, "Buttigieg slightly leading Sanders with 71% of Iowa results reported," 5 Feb. 2020 As delays continue, so do widespread questions over the complicated caucus process. Elly Belle,, "What To Know About Shadow, The App That Is Disrupting The Iowa Caucus," 4 Feb. 2020 Win, lose or spin The caucus process has always been arcane. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "First Iowa results show Buttigieg with slight delegate lead over Sanders; Warren 3rd, Biden 4th," 4 Feb. 2020 The other story was the breakdown of the caucus process. Dan Balz,, "Uncertainty plagues first voting of 2020," 4 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The app was rolled out shortly before caucusing began and did not go through rigorous testing. Anchorage Daily News, "DNC chair calls for ‘recanvass’ of Iowa results after delays," 7 Feb. 2020 The app was rolled out shortly before caucusing began and did not go through rigorous testing. Steve Peoples, Fortune, "Democratic Party chairman calls on Iowa Democrats to ‘recanvass’ caucus results," 6 Feb. 2020 Jackie Lauer, 73, a Democrat who is caucusing for the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is similarly skeptical about the strategy. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "2020 Democrats' pitch to independents and Republicans falling flat," 29 Jan. 2020 Jessalyn Holdcraft, a marketing professional in Cedar Rapids, who caucused for Hillary Clinton in 2016, developed a spreadsheet to help make her decision. Rob Fischer, The New Yorker, "Elizabeth Warren’s Final Pitch in Iowa," 28 Jan. 2020 The Register, along with CNN, also sponsored a Democratic debate this month, the last before caucusing and voting begin in February. Michael Levenson, New York Times, "Des Moines Register Endorses Elizabeth Warren as Iowa Caucuses Approach," 25 Jan. 2020 That means that local Republican precinct committee people must caucus to choose his replacement. Amelia Pak-harvey, Indianapolis Star, "Speedway clerk-treasurer to retire just one month into new term after razor-thin election," 21 Jan. 2020 Many caucusgoers cited Buttigieg’s demeanor and background as much as his campaign platform in weighing whether to caucus for him over Biden. Bill Ruthhart,, "Inside Pete Buttigieg’s Iowa surge: Loud crowds, strong ground game as he emerges as moderate alternative to Joe Biden in 2020," 7 Nov. 2019 The other senator from Maine is Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "Touting 'centrist' approach, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announces she is running for a fifth term," 18 Dec. 2019

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


1800, in the meaning defined above


1808, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for caucus


origin unknown

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Time Traveler for caucus

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The first known use of caucus was in 1800

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Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Caucus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for caucus


How to pronounce caucus (audio)

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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