cau·​cus | \ˈkȯ-kəs \

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

In terms of technology. The House caucus has the priorities of health care, minimum wage, infrastructure. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "Silicon Valley’s Rep. Ro Khanna talks tech regulation on The Vergecast," 27 Nov. 2018 The European Reform Group, a Eurosceptic caucus, has 80 members, many of whom think that Brexit trumps everything else, including keeping Labour out of Downing Street. The Economist, "What doesn’t kill her makes Theresa May stronger," 12 July 2018 Just how much business can Republicans get done under the cloud of an FBI probe into their former leader and with a fractured caucus? Jessie Balmert,, "After FBI probe, GOP fight & lawmaking backlog, Ohio House might finally pick new speaker," 5 June 2018 And the caucus did invite Ramirez-Rosa to plead his case at its next meeting. Ben Joravsky, Chicago Reader, "Clout City / Politics Why did Carlos Ramirez-Rosa get kicked out of the City Council’s Latino Caucus?," 24 May 2018 House Republican Leader Mike McLane of Powell Butte also voted to pass the bill out of committee and House Republican spokesman Preston Mann said the caucus plans to suspend procedural rules this afternoon to allow a quick vote on the bill. Hillary Borrud,, "Oregon lawmakers move quickly to vote on Kate Brown's business tax cut," 21 May 2018 The only state where Steyer’s tour has conducted three events is Iowa, the site of the nation’s first caucuses. Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, "Will the Fervor for Impeachment Start a Democratic Civil War?," 19 May 2018 Additionally, 2020 campaigns are just about to kick off, with primaries and caucuses starting in January 2020. Emily Bloch, Teen Vogue, "6 Things to Do to Stay Political Now That Midterms Are Over," 8 Nov. 2018 Their biggest victory was a Senate vote to reverse the repeal, in which all members of the Democratic caucus and three Republicans voted in favor of reinstating net neutrality rules. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Lawmaker who wants paid fast lanes on Internet wins US Senate seat," 7 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Ron Wyden of Oregon, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Dianne Feinstein of California, Kamala Harris of California and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, as well as Angus King, a Maine Independent, who caucuses with the Democrats. Edmund H. Mahony,, "U.S. Attorney For Connecticut Durham's Secret Report Part Of Debate On CIA Nominee Haspel," 10 May 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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5 Dec 2018

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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)

: to meet in a caucus


cau·​cus | \ˈkȯ-kəs \

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

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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