democracy

noun
de·​moc·​ra·​cy | \ di-ˈmä-krə-sē How to pronounce democracy (audio) \
plural democracies

Definition of democracy

1a : government by the people especially : rule of the majority
b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
2 : a political unit that has a democratic government
3 capitalized : the principles and policies of the Democratic party in the U.S. from emancipation Republicanism to New Deal Democracy— C. M. Roberts
4 : the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority
5 : the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges

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Frequently Asked Questions About democracy

Is the United States a democracy or a republic?

The United States is both a democracy and a republic. Democracies and republics are both forms of government in which supreme power resides in the citizens. The word republic refers specifically to a government in which those citizens elect representatives who govern according to the law. The word democracy can refer to this same kind of representational government, or it can refer instead to what is also called a direct democracy, in which the citizens themselves participate in the act of governing directly.

What is the basic meaning of democracy?

The word democracy most often refers to a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting.

What is a democratic system of government?

A democratic system of government is a form of government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodic free elections.

Examples of democracy in a Sentence

Democracy, I would repeat, is the noblest form of government we have yet evolved … — Norman Mailer, New York Review of Books, 27 Mar. 2002 … this and the economic failures of faithful democracies in places such as India or the Anglophone Caribbean demonstrated conclusively that there was no inherent link between freedom and capitalism … — Orlando Patterson, New Republic, 8 Nov. 1999 Even in democracies today, crucial knowledge is available to only a few individuals … — Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel, 1997 The nation has chosen democracy over monarchy. In a democracy, every citizen should have the right to vote. The company is not a democracy; decisions are made by a board of directors, not the workers. There is democracy within the company.
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Recent Examples on the Web Or at least this is how the principals in this drama, in interviews with Saldin and Teles, tell the tale of their righteous campaign for democracy itself. Samuel Moyn, The New Republic, "The Never Trumpers Have Already Won," 4 Aug. 2020 It was passed after last year’s massive protests called for greater democracy and more police accountability. Zen Soo, BostonGlobe.com, "Nearly 600,000 vote in Hong Kong prodemocracy primaries," 12 July 2020 Critics view it as a further deterioration of freedoms promised to the former British colony, in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability. Washington Post, "Australia to offer residence option to 10,000 Hong Kongers," 12 July 2020 Because the new national security law is written vaguely, there are concerns that it will be used to clamp down on dissidents who has been protesting for democracy and for less control by the Chinese government in Hong Kong for months. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Australia to suspend Hong Kong extradition treaty, extends visas for Hong Kongers," 9 July 2020 Critics view it as a further deterioration of freedoms promised to the former British colony, in response to last year's massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability. Rod Mcguirk, The Christian Science Monitor, "UK and Australia turn their backs on China, welcome Hong Kongers," 9 July 2020 Scholars have long warned that constant polling is bad for democracy. Roxanne Khamsi, Wired, "America Has a Sick Obsession with Covid-19 Polls," 8 July 2020 Hong Kongers have long feared Chinese encroachment on their autonomy, and have pushed for greater democracy -- one of the driving factors behind last year's protests, as well as the 2014 Umbrella Movement. Jessie Yeung, CNN, "China is about to pass a controversial national security law in Hong Kong. Here's what you need to know," 25 June 2020 That carries risks for the armed forces as well as for democracy. The Economist, "Bello Does Jair Bolsonaro threaten Brazilian democracy?," 11 June 2020

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

1539, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for democracy

borrowed from Middle French democracie, democratie, borrowed from Late Latin dēmocratia, borrowed from Greek dēmokratía, from dēmo- demo- + -kratia -cracy

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Time Traveler for democracy

Time Traveler

The first known use of democracy was in 1539

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Statistics for democracy

Last Updated

8 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Democracy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/democracy. Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for democracy

democracy

noun
How to pronounce democracy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of democracy

: a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting
: a country ruled by democracy
: an organization or situation in which everyone is treated equally and has equal rights

democracy

noun
de·​moc·​ra·​cy | \ di-ˈmä-krə-sē How to pronounce democracy (audio) \
plural democracies

Kids Definition of democracy

1 : government by the people : majority rule
2 : government in which the highest power is held by the people and is usually used through representatives
3 : a political unit (as a nation) governed by the people
4 : belief in or practice of the idea that all people are socially equal

democracy

noun
de·​moc·​ra·​cy | \ di-ˈmä-krə-sē How to pronounce democracy (audio) \
plural democracies

Legal Definition of democracy

1a : government by the people especially : rule of the majority
b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
2 : a political unit that has a democratic government

Other Words from democracy

democratic \ ˌde-​mə-​ˈkra-​tik How to pronounce democratic (audio) \ adjective
democratically adverb

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