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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Economic issues were also of top concern to 65% of likely Independent voters in the state and threats to the democracy 27%. Aubrie Spady, Fox News, 21 Sep. 2022 China claims Taiwan, a self-governing democracy, as its own and has accused the U.S. of interfering with its internal affairs even though the ruling Communist Party has never controlled the island. Alexandra Stevenson, BostonGlobe.com, 4 Sep. 2022 In his speech on Thursday, the President needs to stay above the fray and make clear that his comments are not about partisan gain but repairing the democracy. Julian Zelizer, CNN, 1 Sep. 2022 These companies royally mucked up both the business of journalism and the operation of the democracy the Fourth Estate holds in check; journalists are both right to hold the tech industry’s power to account and sometimes overly eager to do so. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 25 Aug. 2022 The United States and Taiwan said they are set to begin formal trade negotiations, as Washington shows its support for the island democracy facing Beijing’s ire for hosting high-ranking U.S. congressional delegations. Lyric Li, Washington Post, 18 Aug. 2022 China regards the self-governing democracy as its own territory in a decades-long standoff over diplomatic ties and talks and threats around reunification. Siladitya Ray, Forbes, 9 Aug. 2022 No one wants a war, and the free world cannot allow China to destroy Taiwan’s democracy. WSJ, 9 Aug. 2022 China claims Taiwan, a self-governing island democracy of 23 million people, as its territory and has long vowed to take it back, by force if necessary. New York Times, 7 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of democracy was in 1539

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Dictionary Entries Near democracy

demobilize

democracy

democrat

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Statistics for democracy

Last Updated

26 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Democracy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/democracy. Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for democracy

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 democracy (audio) \ adjective
democratically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on democracy

Nglish: Translation of democracy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of democracy for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about democracy

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