im·​pol·​i·​tic (ˌ)im-ˈpä-lə-ˌtik How to pronounce impolitic (audio)
: not politic : unwise
impolitical adjective
impolitically adverb
impoliticly adverb

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Impolitic appeared 400 years ago as an antonym of "politic," a word that basically means "shrewd," "sagacious," or "tactful." "Politic" came to us via Middle French from Latin politicus. The Latin word, in turn, came from a Greek word based on politēs, meaning "citizen." "Impolitic" has often been used to refer to action or policy on the part of public figures that is politically unwise-from British statesman Edmund Burke's judicious "the most ... impolitick of all things, unequal taxation" (1797) to People journalist James Kunen's ironic "The author of these impolitic remarks has risen to the very pinnacle of politics" (1988).

Examples of impolitic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Though Baron’s account contains no collegial bombshells, it is filled with small, impolitic, and probably unnecessary detonations of this kind, apparently included for the fullness of the record. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2023 In a 1989 interview, Gagosian spoke with impolitic frankness to Anthony Haden-Guest about the ways money can ruin an artist. Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, 24 July 2023 His downfall came not with any of his policies, nor with his impolitic decision to attack America’s favorite pop music, but with an insensitive joke about a coal advisory panel that mortified the president. Liza Featherstone, The New Republic, 16 June 2023 Even in the brusque world of old-school record executives, Mr. Stein could be startlingly impolitic. Ben Sisario, New York Times, 2 Apr. 2023 His impolitic views were also hardly a secret. New York Times, 14 Feb. 2021 Yet even with a leader like Trump, who was often impolitic with his language and abrasive toward people of other cultures, the GOP was able to capture a sizable chunk of minority voters, enough to ensure Texas and Florida weren’t even close calls on election night. Zaid Jilani, Washington Examiner, 12 Nov. 2020 In this age of globalization, toughened border restrictions seem one obvious, if impolitic, step. A. Roger Ekirch, WSJ, 16 July 2021 As with any historic document, some of the diary entries are impolitic by today’s standards, but this should not diminish the importance of this book. David James, Anchorage Daily News, 3 Dec. 2022

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

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1600, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of impolitic was circa 1600


Dictionary Entries Near impolitic

Cite this Entry

“Impolitic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

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