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 Donald Trump and his vaunted base have revealed themselves in a mob of thugs taking siege of the U.S. Capitol to try to overthrow our democracy. John Brummett, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: After the Trump horror," 10 Jan. 2021 Nothing is so foundational to every other facet of our democracy than the right to cast a ballot free from discrimination and intimidation. Time, "Cory Booker and Tiffany Muller: How the Next Congress Can Improve U.S. Elections and Protect Voting Rights," 30 Dec. 2020 Distrust in the functioning of our democracy will continue to fester as a result of the courts’ and the media’s refusal to address the concerns of those who still want to know precisely what happened after the polls closed. WSJ, "When Time Ran Out to Litigate the Election," 17 Dec. 2020 Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow autocrat Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April 2019. Washington Post, "World Digest: Dec, 23, 2020," 24 Dec. 2020 Their suit is nothing less than an affront to constitutional democracy. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Supreme Court rejects GOP bid to overturn Biden's victory in Pennsylvania," 9 Dec. 2020 Poland’s transition to democracy, and the compromises that were made, was no exception. New York Times, "In Poland, Protests Over Abortion Ban Could Revolutionize Politics," 7 Dec. 2020 Judges ruled decisively that Trump’s side has not proven the election was fraudulent, with some offering painstaking analyses of why such claims lack merit and pointed opinions about the risks the legal claims pose to American democracy. Anchorage Daily News, "Judges turn back claims by Trump and his allies in six states as the president’s legal effort founders," 5 Dec. 2020 Yet some fear the damage to democracy has been done, particularly to communities of color. Kristine Phillips, USA TODAY, "Trump election lawsuits targeted counties with large Black, Latino populations," 2 Dec. 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

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Democracy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/democracy. Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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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 democracy (audio) \ adjective
democratically adverb

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Comments on democracy

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