pol·​i·​ty | \ ˈpä-lə-tē How to pronounce polity (audio) \
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 Democrats compete for power in what is, by any literal definition, not a truly democratic polity. Michael Kazin, The New Republic, "How the Democratic Party Can Create a Majoritarian Coalition," 11 Feb. 2021 This doc captures the transformation of the American polity into fans. Armond White, National Review, "Bowing Down to Obama," 27 Nov. 2020 At the end of this road lies theocracy, which could only be achieved at the point of the sword, or withdrawal into faith communities whose existence is protected by the polity their members scorn. William A. Galston, WSJ, "A Start at Bridging the Partisan Gulf," 29 Dec. 2020 The survival of a moderate conservatism, a conservatism that accepts and is comfortable with modernity and liberal democracy, is indispensable to the stability of our polity as a whole. New York Times, "Andrew Sullivan on the War Within Conservatism and Why It Matters to All of Us," 24 Dec. 2020 There is talk all the time now about a democratic crisis; many are justly concerned that our political system and bad political actors have conspired to deny a majority of Americans an equal say in matters that affect them and the polity as a whole. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Case for Giving Workers Ownership Rights," 22 Dec. 2020 Some analysts look at the last few American presidential elections and see a schizoid polity. Keith C. Burris Pittsburgh Post-gazette (tns), Star Tribune, "A startling hypothesis: What if voters actually know what they want?," 20 Nov. 2020 The religious cults of the empire, by avowing their allegiance to the emperor, clothed the imperial polity in a mystical and divinely ordained legitimacy. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "Put Not Your Trust in Princes (nor in Republicans)," 4 Sep. 2020 The professor becomes a politician, saving the polity from corruption and ignorance, demagoguery and vice. Corey Robin, The New Yorker, "The Professor and the Politician," 12 Nov. 2020

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

probably borrowed from Late Latin polītīa "citizenship, political organization, constitution of a state, administrative direction," with ending conformed to -ity — more at police entry 1

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Statistics for polity

Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Polity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polity. Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for polity



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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More from Merriam-Webster on polity

Nglish: Translation of polity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of polity for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about polity

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