politics

noun

pol·​i·​tics ˈpä-lə-ˌtiks How to pronounce politics (audio)
plural in form but singular or plural in construction
1
a
: the art or science of government
b
: the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy
c
: the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government
2
: political actions, practices, or policies
3
a
: political affairs or business
especially : competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government)
b
: political life especially as a principal activity or profession
c
: political activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices
4
: the political opinions or sympathies of a person
5
a
: the total complex of relations between people living in society
b
: relations or conduct in a particular area of experience especially as seen or dealt with from a political point of view
office politics
ethnic politics

Did you know?

Playing Politics

Politics is a multifaceted word. It has a set of fairly specific meanings that are descriptive and nonjudgmental (such as “the art or science of government” and "political principles"), but it can and often does carry a negative meaning closely related to these (“political activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices”). English is a flexible language, and it is not uncommon for a word to have multiple related meanings that run the connotative gamut from good to bad. Some of these have been around for a surprisingly long time. The negative sense of politics, as seen in the phrase play politics, for example, has been in use since at least 1853, when abolitionist Wendell Phillips declared: “We do not play politics; anti-slavery is no half-jest with us.”

Examples of politics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In: Train Derailment East Palestine Kaia Hubbard Kaia Hubbard is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital based in Washington, D.C. Kaia Hubbard, CBS News, 16 Feb. 2024 By Philip Elliott February 16, 2024 6:00 AM EST This article is part of The D.C. Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. TIME, 16 Feb. 2024 Kim Yun-cheol, the politics professor, said Kim Keon Hee differs significantly from other first ladies before her. Yoonjung Seo, CNN, 9 Feb. 2024 What to know about the debate More Kathryn Watson Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital based in Washington, D.C. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, 6 Feb. 2024 By Philip Elliott February 6, 2024 11:36 AM EST This article is part of The D.C. Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. TIME, 6 Feb. 2024 Some write-in choices are undoubtedly protest votes, Andrew Smith, a politics professor at the University of New Hampshire, told McClatchy News. Brendan Rascius, Miami Herald, 26 Jan. 2024 The show will have a format similar to many of the other Sunday politics shows, combining interviews with politicians and newsmakers with a panel of commentators. Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Jan. 2024 In: New Hampshire Primary Republican Party Kaia Hubbard Kaia Hubbard is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital based in Washington, D.C. Kaia Hubbard, CBS News, 24 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'politics.' 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

Middle English Polletiques, Polytykys, as title of Aristotle's Politics, from politik "of spiritual or secular governance, political" + -iques, -ykys -ics, after Middle French politiques, polliticques and Medieval Latin polītica, after Greek tà politiká "public matters, civic affairs," from neuter plural of politikós "of citizens, civic, of a state, political, public" — more at politic

First Known Use

circa 1529, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of politics was circa 1529

Dictionary Entries Near politics

Cite this Entry

“Politics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/politics. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

politics

noun singular or plural
pol·​i·​tics ˈpäl-ə-ˌtiks How to pronounce politics (audio)
1
b
: the art of guiding or influencing governmental policy
c
: the art of winning and holding control over a government
2
: political affairs or business
especially : competition between groups or individuals for power and leadership
3
: political opinions

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