pol·​i·​tics | \ ˈpä-lə-ˌtiks How to pronounce politics (audio) \

Definition of politics

1a : 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
3a : 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
5a : 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

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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

Just to be clear, my argument isn’t that politics is always noble, or that there isn’t a dark underside that exists. Nr Interview, National Review, "A Political Renewal?," 11 June 2019 What kind of politics happened during the day today? Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al.com, "Drivin N Cryin is still going ‘Straight to Hell’," 11 June 2019 If anything, Trump and his close allies have suggested that foreign intervention in domestic politics is a normal course of business. NBC News, "Trump normalizes foreign election intervention ahead of 2020," 3 June 2019 For Celedon, politics isn't just about the presidency or the men and women who represent her in Washington and Sacramento. Moni Basu, CNN, "Blue state, red valley: In this part of California, a new generation is more woke than ever," 1 June 2018 California is a deep blue state and one manifestation of its left-leaning politics is a high level of taxation, particularly levies on personal income. Dan Walters, San Francisco Chronicle, "Will $12 billion tax bite drive rich from California?," 23 Apr. 2018 Margaret, in other words, is right to fear that her politics is academic cant. Constance Grady, Vox, "Howards End is a strangely timely adaptation of E.M. Forster’s “picture of liberal guilt”," 15 Apr. 2018 Such groups are permitted to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to try to influence elections as long as politics is not their primary focus. Michelle Ye Hee Lee, The Seattle Times, "Senate votes to overturn Trump administration donor disclosure rule for ‘dark money’ groups," 12 Dec. 2018 By 2016, Woodard’s politics had grown more extreme. Ian Shapira, Washington Post, "He once defended the poor in court. Now he defends white supremacists.," 2 July 2018

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

circa 1529, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for politics

Greek politika, from neuter plural of politikos political

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Statistics for politics

Last Updated

16 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for politics

The first known use of politics was circa 1529

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More Definitions for politics

politics

noun

English Language Learners Definition of politics

: activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government or getting and keeping power in a government
: the work or job of people (such as elected officials) who are part of a government
: the opinions that someone has about what should be done by governments : a person's political thoughts and opinions

politics

noun plural
pol·​i·​tics | \ ˈpä-lə-ˌtiks How to pronounce politics (audio) \

Kids Definition of politics

1 : the activities, actions, and policies that are used to gain and hold power in a government or to influence a government
2 : a person's opinions about the management of government
Hint: Politics can be used as a singular or a plural in writing and speaking. Politics has always interested me. The country's politics have changed.

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More from Merriam-Webster on politics

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with politics

Spanish Central: Translation of politics

Nglish: Translation of politics for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of politics for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about politics

Comments on politics

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