pol·​i·​ty | \ˈpä-lə-tē \
plural polities

Definition of polity 

1 : political organization

2 : a specific form of political organization

3 : a politically organized unit

4a : the form or constitution of a politically organized unit

b : the form of government of a religious denomination

Examples of polity in a Sentence

the polities of medieval Italy

Recent Examples on the Web

But constitutions, however elegant, can’t breathe life into dead polities. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "America’s Decline Never Seems to Arrive," 2 July 2018 In our country’s earliest days, European ancestry distinguished members of the polity from those whose land could be rightfully expropriated; and whose bodies justly bought and sold. Eric Leivtz, Daily Intelligencer, "For Democrats, Immigration Is a Political Problem Without a Policy Solution," 2 July 2018 What is the Declaration of Independence but a document where the embryonic American polity casts itself as a victim of George III, listing grievances that can only be satisfied by the formation of a new state? Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "The Centrist Grievance Against “Victim Politics”," 7 May 2018 The spiritual argument that the drive to explore is noble, that exploring as a polity gives society collective purpose, and individuals hope for the future, is deeply moving to some. Konstantin Kakaes, Vox, "NASA’s leader wants to privatize the International Space Station. It’s a remarkably terrible idea.," 8 June 2018 Thoreau drives to an extreme those implications of anarchic individualism which in the end must undercut both the fraternal vision and the democratic polity. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "The Delusions of Trump-Era Escapism," 19 Mar. 2018 The fault lines of our new online polities run under and through the borders of the old, legacy ones. Antonio García Martínez, WIRED, "How Facebook Binds, and Shatters, Communities," 11 May 2018 In addition to aiding the livelihoods of local residents, service provision works to build community by signaling membership in a polity. José Ciro Martínez, Washington Post, "Why the Syrian regime has been targeting civilian infrastructure," 16 Apr. 2018

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

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for polity

Late Latin politia — more at police

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The first known use of polity was in 1538

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English Language Learners Definition of polity

: something (such as a country or state) that has a government : a politically organized unit

: a form of government

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Comments on polity

What made you want to look up polity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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