deep state


plural deep states
: an alleged secret network of especially nonelected government officials and sometimes private entities (as in the financial services and defense industries) operating extralegally to influence and enact government policy
The power of the deep state comes from experience, knowledge, relationships, insight, craft, special skills, traditions, and shared values. Together, these purported attributes make nameless bureaucrats into a supergovernment that is accountable to no one. That is a scary prospect.David Rothkopf
What the archbishop suspected was a crime stage-managed by Turkey's "deep state"—an opaque underworld where powerful elements within the state, especially the military and security services, act in conjunction with violent extremist groups … as well as the apolitical criminal underworld, to undertake special, illegal operations in the political interest of the country's ruling elite.John Eibner

Examples of deep state in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Now at Arapahoe this year, the 6-foot-3 senior is averaging 20.8 points and 8.4 rebounds as a centerpiece on a Warriors team that’s aiming for another deep state tournament run. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, 2 Feb. 2024 Instead, Carlson posed increasingly esoteric questions — including whether any world leader could be a true Christian — and at times appeared to goad Putin into alleging a U.S. deep state and promote other conspiracy theories. Francesca Ebel, Washington Post, 9 Feb. 2024 Many of the January 6 Capitol rioters were inspired by QAnon conspiracy theories that claimed a deep state was working to undermine President Trump and betray the electorate. Kathryn Olmsted, Scientific American, 6 Feb. 2024 If true, his story would confirm one of the MAGA right’s articles of faith: the existence of a deep state devoted to suppressing information and deceiving the American people. Michelle Orange, Harper's Magazine, 3 Nov. 2023 Despite his support for the movement, he’s been labeled by some on the far right as a deep state agent working to discredit Trump, the outlet reported. Brieanna J. Frank, USA TODAY, 18 Aug. 2023 The feeling is shared throughout the political spectrum, with Trump supporters fearing deep state overreach and woke communism where liberals fear fascism. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 1 May 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'deep state.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


translation of Turkish derin devlet

First Known Use

1997, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of deep state was in 1997

Dictionary Entries Near deep state

Cite this Entry

“Deep state.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2024.

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