plutocracy

noun

plu·​toc·​ra·​cy plü-ˈtä-krə-sē How to pronounce plutocracy (audio)
plural plutocracies
1
: government by the wealthy
2
: a controlling class of the wealthy
plutocrat noun
plutocratic adjective
plutocratically adverb

Did you know?

Ploutos was Greek for "wealth", and Plouton, or Pluto, was one of the names used for the Greek god of the underworld, where all the earth's mineral wealth was stored. So a plutocracy governs or wields power through its money. The economic growth in the U.S. in the late 19th century produced a group of enormously wealthy plutocrats. Huge companies like John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil gained serious political power, and Rockefeller was able to influence lawmakers in states where his businesses operated. For this reason, it was said in 1905 that Ohio and New Jersey were plutocracies, not democracies.

Examples of plutocracy in a Sentence

If only the wealthy can afford to run for public office, are we more a plutocracy than a democracy? corporate greed and America's growing plutocracy
Recent Examples on the Web The key political takeaway is that the White House is determined to frame the upcoming contest between Biden and Donald Trump as a choice between a Democrat fighting for the American middle class and a Republican stooge for the plutocracy. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, 12 Mar. 2024 Democracy can flip into plutocracy if a single party accrues enough voting credits, which gets easier when voter turnout is low. Joel Khalili, WIRED, 26 Jan. 2024 Once among America’s most oppressed populations, her triumph is not only immune to interrogation, so is American plutocracy for having anointed her as its apostle. Soraya Roberts, Longreads, 10 Aug. 2020 Many billionaires have additionally rigged economic policies in their favor by lobbying and in some cases, assuming government positions, known as a plutocracy, Rebekka Ayres argues in an op-ed for Teen Vogue. Devika Rao, The Week, 26 Nov. 2022 One suspects that his problem with plutocracy isn’t its existence, but that membership in it didn’t save him when a fall guy was needed. Laura Kipnis, The Atlantic, 10 Nov. 2022 One school of progressive thought says that America has devolved (once again, perhaps) into a plutocracy. Katherine Stewart, The New Republic, 11 July 2022 Social equity pits people with very little wealth and clout against the plutocracy that runs the world, with billions of dollars at stake. Amanda Chicago Lewis, The New Republic, 4 Apr. 2022 The battle against plutocracy isn’t going to be won in a single piece of legislation, certainly not one against which Manchin and Sinema hold an effective veto. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, 1 Nov. 2021

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

Word History

Etymology

Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; akin to Greek plein to sail, float — more at flow

First Known Use

1631, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of plutocracy was in 1631

Dictionary Entries Near plutocracy

Cite this Entry

“Plutocracy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plutocracy. Accessed 21 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

plutocracy

noun
plu·​toc·​ra·​cy plü-ˈtäk-rə-sē How to pronounce plutocracy (audio)
plural plutocracies
1
: government by the wealthy
2
: a controlling class of the wealthy
plutocrat noun
plutocratic adjective

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