democracy

play
noun de·moc·ra·cy \di-ˈmä-krə-sē\

Definition of democracy

plural

democracies

  1. 1 a :  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. 2 :  a political unit that has a democratic government

  3. 3 capitalized :  the principles and policies of the Democratic party in the United States <from emancipation Republicanism to New Deal Democracy — C. M. Roberts>

  4. 4 :  the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority

  5. 5 :  the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges

Examples of democracy in a sentence

  1. Democracy, I would repeat, is the noblest form of government we have yet evolved … —Norman Mailer, New York Review of Books, 27 Mar. 2002

  2. … 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

  3. Even in democracies today, crucial knowledge is available to only a few individuals … —Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel, 1997

  4. The nation has chosen democracy over monarchy.

  5. In a democracy, every citizen should have the right to vote.

  6. The company is not a democracy; decisions are made by a board of directors, not the workers.

  7. There is democracy within the company.

Is the United States a democracy or a republic?

One of the most commonly encountered questions about the word democracy has nothing to do with its spelling or pronunciation, and isn’t even directly related to the meaning of the word itself. That question is “is the United States a democracy or a republic?” The answer to this, as with so many other questions about meaning, may be phrased as some form of “it depends.”

Some people believe that a country calling itself a democracy must be engaged in direct (or pure) democracy, in which the people of a state or region vote directly for policies, rather than elect representatives who make choices on their behalf. People who follow this line of reasoning hold that the United States is more properly described as a republic, using the following definition of that word: ”a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.”

However, both democracy and republic have more than a single meaning, and one of the definitions we provide for democracy closely resembles the definition of republic given above: “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.”

So if someone asks you if the United States is a democracy or a republic, you may safely answer the question with either “both” or “it depends.”

Origin and Etymology of democracy

Middle French democratie, from Late Latin democratia, from Greek dēmokratia, from dēmos + -kratia -cracy


First Known Use: 1576


DEMOCRACY Defined for English Language Learners

democracy

play
noun de·moc·ra·cy \di-ˈmä-krə-sē\

Definition of democracy for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

democracy

play
noun de·moc·ra·cy \di-ˈmä-krə-sē\

Definition of democracy for Students

plural

democracies

  1. 1 :  government by the people :  majority rule

  2. 2 :  government in which the highest power is held by the people and is usually used through representatives

  3. 3 :  a political unit (as a nation) governed by the people

  4. 4 :  belief in or practice of the idea that all people are socially equal


Law Dictionary

democracy

play
noun de·moc·ra·cy \di-ˈmä-krə-sē\

Legal Definition of democracy

plural

democracies

  1. 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. 2 :  a political unit that has a democratic government

democratic

\ˌde-mə-ˈkra-tik\ play adjective

democratically

adverb


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