police state


Definition of police state

: a political unit characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to publicly known legal procedures

Examples of police state in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Protesters at the time argued the city was fostering a police state and that Chicago officers were targeting, harming and arresting young Black and Latino protesters. Paige Fry, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago activists condemn Lightfoot’s National Guard request ahead of Derek Chauvin trial verdict, demand charges be dropped against protesters arrested in Logan Square march," 20 Apr. 2021 China, by contrast, is a police state with one of the least racially diverse populations on the planet. WSJ, "Why Authoritarian China Loves Woke U.S.," 12 Mar. 2021 O'Toole has also said China is imposing a police state on Hong Kong and arbitrarily detaining two Canadians in Chinese prisons. Rob Gillies, Star Tribune, "Canada lawmakers to vote on accusing China of genocide," 18 Feb. 2021 The report makes no reference to COVID-19, a vaccine against the disease or plans to introduce a police state during a pandemic. Chelsey Cox, USA TODAY, "Fact check: 'Rockefeller Playbook' and 'Operation Lockstep' are hoaxes," 14 Jan. 2021 Reliable information about developments in Syria is often scarce because of the government’s tight media controls and widespread fear of the police state. Sarah Dadouch, Washington Post, "Escalating violence in strategic Syrian city belies Assad’s claim that he’s in control," 24 Nov. 2020 The Left, for all its hatred of Trump, nonetheless after 2017 grew more vocal over the Chinese gulags, the Tibetization of Hong Kong, and Beijing’s Orwellian internal police state. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Target: America," 22 Dec. 2020 Yet pro-democracy activists on the island warn that a quick re-engagement, untethered to human rights reforms, would serve only to reward continued repression in the communist police state. Washington Post, "Biden wants to re-thaw relations with Cuba. He'll have to navigate Florida politics.," 25 Nov. 2020 Surveillance requires enormous manpower, and a police state in which the majority are not in agreement with the rule of law that a few privileged beneficiaries hold dear, consumes too many resources to be sustainable. Madeleine Schwartz, The New York Review of Books, "Criminalizing a Constitutional Right," 4 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'police state.' 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 police state

1851, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for police state

Time Traveler

The first known use of police state was in 1851

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Statistics for police state

Last Updated

25 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Police state.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/police%20state. Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for police state

police state


English Language Learners Definition of police state

: a country in which the activities of the people are strictly controlled by the government with the help of a police force

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