re·​al·​po·​li·​tik rā-ˈäl-ˌpō-li-ˌtēk How to pronounce realpolitik (audio)
often capitalized
: politics based on practical and material factors rather than on theoretical or ethical objectives

Examples of realpolitik in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The relationship also underscores the Emirates’ realpolitik foreign policy. TIME, 13 Feb. 2024 Still, there were moments of tension with critics who deplored Mr. Kissinger’s brand of realpolitik. Jacob Bernstein, New York Times, 2 Dec. 2023 Israeli ‘realpolitik’ In pictures: Ethnic Armenians flee Nagorno-Karabakh 1 of 28 Some in the international community are calling for action against Azerbaijan in the wake of the Armenian exodus from Karabakh. Max Saltman, CNN, 4 Oct. 2023 Many would also have wondered what Chinese threat demanded this illiberal realpolitik. G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs, 11 Feb. 2022 Blamed for Cambodia’s fall Kissinger was a practitioner of realpolitik — using diplomacy to achieve practical objectives rather than advance lofty ideals. Nancy Benac, Fortune, 30 Nov. 2023 But if this tendency makes the West less inclined toward realpolitik—trading rights and principles for peace, or cutting deals with unpalatable autocrats—wars such as the one in Ukraine may become more frequent and more difficult to end. Christopher Blattman, Foreign Affairs, 29 Nov. 2022 However ruthless Moscow’s realpolitik might be, is Friend really comparing it to the Nazis’ worldview of an international Jewish conspiracy that drove them to wage an apocalyptic racial war of annihilation? Lawrence Jackson, Harper's Magazine, 10 July 2023 Despite the legacy of the 12-year Syrian civil war – 300,000 civilians killed, 5 million refugees, three foreign armies’ involvement in Syria, and the birth of the Islamic State – Arab states are now reconciling with the Assad regime out of simple realpolitik. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, 16 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'realpolitik.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


German, from real actual + Politik politics

First Known Use

1895, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of realpolitik was in 1895

Dictionary Entries Near realpolitik

Cite this Entry

“Realpolitik.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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