pol·​i·​tic ˈpä-lə-ˌtik How to pronounce politic (audio)
: characterized by shrewdness in managing, contriving, or dealing
: sagacious in promoting a policy
: shrewdly tactful

Did you know?

Politic behavior in class always requires a respectful attitude toward your teacher. It's never politic to ask for a raise when your boss is in a terrible mood. And once teenagers learn to drive, they quickly learn the politic way to ask for the car—that is, whatever gets the keys without upsetting the parents. As you can see, politic can be used for many situations that have nothing to do with public politics.

Choose the Right Synonym for politic

expedient, politic, advisable mean dictated by practical or prudent motives.

expedient usually implies what is immediately advantageous without regard for ethics or consistent principles.

a politically expedient decision

politic stresses judiciousness and tactical value but usually implies some lack of candor or sincerity.

a politic show of interest

advisable applies to what is practical, prudent, or advantageous but lacks the derogatory implication of expedient and politic.

sometimes it's advisable to say nothing

suave, urbane, diplomatic, bland, smooth, politic mean pleasantly tactful and well-mannered.

suave suggests a specific ability to deal with others easily and without friction.

a suave public relations coordinator

urbane implies high cultivation and poise coming from wide social experience.

an urbane traveler

diplomatic stresses an ability to deal with ticklish situations tactfully.

a diplomatic negotiator

bland emphasizes mildness of manner and absence of irritating qualities.

a bland master of ceremonies

smooth suggests often a deliberately assumed suavity.

a smooth salesman

politic implies shrewd as well as tactful and suave handling of people.

a cunningly politic manager

Examples of politic in a Sentence

It would not be politic to ignore them. the actor is politic in discussing the aborted film project, being content to say that there were “creative differences”
Recent Examples on the Web That doesn’t always gel with the sardonic remove the writers built into their material, nor the show’s prescient awareness of the sardonic tango of showbiz and politic power, personal branding and the possibility for genuinely populist adoration by those craving relief from being ignored. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, 4 Feb. 2022 Masks have become a hot-button politic issue during the pandemic, particularly in the U.S. Where they are worn is largely based on which state governors choose to enact mandatory laws around them, though this new trend of presidential merch masks takes things to a new level. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 4 Aug. 2020 Austin, the retired general with the little flag pin on his suit lapel, was the more politic witness. Washington Post, 28 Sep. 2021 Fox News is not exactly known for their nuanced (or accurate) takes on politic discourse. refinery29.com, 13 Aug. 2020 Again, the park ranger pondered the most politic response. Jesse Ashlock, Condé Nast Traveler, 1 Mar. 2022 For his part, Márki-Zay didn’t give the most politic concession speech. John Fund, National Review, 5 Apr. 2022 But some of those friends were decidedly less politic when contacted by a reporter. New York Times, 16 Oct. 2021 Meanwhile, as the early promise of a coronavirus-free summer has given way to new mask mandates and other restrictions, public hostility toward vaccine holdouts has spurred accusations of politic grandstanding, ignorance and selfishness. Anchorage Daily News, 31 July 2021 See More

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

Word History


Middle English politik, pollitique "of spiritual or secular governance, political, sagacious, prudent," borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French politique "of the state, political, of the regulation of social behavior," borrowed from Latin polīticus "of civil government, political" (Medieval Latin, "judicious, prudent"), borrowed from Greek polītikós "of citizens, civic, made up of citizens, of a statesman, of a state, political, public," from polī́tēs "citizen, freeman" + -ikos -ic entry 1 — more at police entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of politic was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near politic

Cite this Entry

“Politic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/politic. Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


pol·​i·​tic ˈpäl-ə-ˌtik How to pronounce politic (audio)
: wise especially in dealing with others or in carrying out a policy

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