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

Last week, a 28-year-old socialist – who had campaigned on a call to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – defeated the chairman of the House Democratic caucus in a primary election. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Ocasio-Cortez’s Socialism Can Work In The Midwest – With a Rebrand," 3 July 2018 Politico interpreted Noble's hiring as a means to gain an inroad into Iowa's largest newspaper and an expansion of Kander's presence in a state that holds the nation's first presidential caucus. Steve Vockrodt, kansascity, "Kander confirms bid for Kansas City mayor in a move already shaking up the ballot," 25 June 2018 The entire Senate Democratic caucus is backing a bill by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, that would limit family separations at the border. New York Times, "Trump Resisting a Growing Wrath for Separating Migrant Families," 18 June 2018 It's been a pretty bad week for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who is trying — and right now failing — to hold his fractured caucus together for just a few more months. Amber Phillips, Washington Post, "The failed farm bill capped an awful week for Paul Ryan," 18 May 2018 Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said the Democratic caucus wants to let the voters decide the issue. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Why anti-marijuana group wants Michigan to legalize weed," 18 May 2018 That means Republicans have to either hold their caucus together perfectly or get one Democrat to defect for every Republican defection. Jennifer Williams, Vox, "Gina Haspel, Trump’s controversial pick for CIA director, explained," 9 May 2018 At the same time, Ryan has struggled to hold together a fractious GOP caucus, initially failing in his attempt to pass a repeal of President Obama's health care law. Michael Scherer,, "Ryan's GOP swept away by a Trumpian revolution," 11 Apr. 2018 Meanwhile, the president's daughter, White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump, spent Monday discussing infrastructure and workplace development in Iowa, which traditionally holds the first presidential nominating caucus. Jonathan Lemire And Darlene Superville, Houston Chronicle, "Trump calls for death penalty to 'get tough' on drug pushers," 19 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who caucuses with the Democrats, already announced their opposition. Lisa Marasco,, "Senate set to vote on Trump's nomination for CIA director," 17 May 2018 In the State Senate, the Republicans control the chamber by a single vote: That’s the one possessed by a Democrat, Simcha Felder, who nonetheless sits and caucuses with Republicans, giving them a crucial 32nd vote in a 63-seat chamber. Jesse Mckinley, New York Times, "Elected on G.O.P. Line, a Democrat Sits Alone," 2 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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Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

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The first known use of caucus was in 1760

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More Definitions for caucus



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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Comments on caucus

What made you want to look up caucus? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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