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

But Herrera’s valiance and skills as one of the Mexican Revolution’s most successful soldaderas are an example of the bravery and sacrifices women during this time made to change the history of Mexico’s politics — and should not be forgotten. Teen Vogue, "Mexican Revolutionary Petra Herrera Posed as a Man to Fight for Her Country," 1 Apr. 2019 The Big Idea is Vox’s home for smart discussion of the most important issues and ideas in politics, science, and culture — typically by outside contributors. Marc Meredith, Vox, "Why letting ex-felons vote probably won’t swing Florida," 2 Nov. 2018 Instead, by picking Ms. Merkel’s preferred choice, a thin majority of delegates signaled support for the chancellor’s big-tent approach to politics. Bojan Pancevski, WSJ, "Election of Merkel Ally Defuses Threat to Her Authority, for Now," 7 Dec. 2018 The 41st and 45th presidents may have differed greatly in their approach to politics. Anna North, Vox, "What George H.W. Bush’s presidency says about Trump and Kavanaugh," 3 Dec. 2018 The interconnection of art and politics remains a preoccupation for the couple. Rob Haskell, Vogue, "How America Ferrera Is Inspiring Celebrities to Get Political," 11 Feb. 2019 At a ceremony that started with a procession of 47 fresh-faced girls carrying a daisy chain, politics was not the subject. Leah Garchik, SFChronicle.com, "Hillary Clinton on bravery and disappointment," 16 June 2018 As for politics, Harvard’s liberal reputation also seems to be well-deserved, based on the survey. Jaclyn Reiss, BostonGlobe.com, "Most Harvard seniors say they will make $70,000 right out of college," 23 May 2018 Pelosi’s closest allies have never maintained that her great strength in politics is as a stump speaker or a high-energy television presence. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "House Democrats don’t need a leader, they need someone to represent them on TV," 20 Nov. 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

7 Apr 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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