noun, often capitalized
re·​al·​po·​li·​tik | \ rā-ˈäl-ˌpō-li-ˌtēk How to pronounce realpolitik (audio) \

Definition of realpolitik

: 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 For him, realpolitik is necessary for European values to prevail. The Economist, "Assessing Emmanuel Macron’s apocalyptic vision," 7 Nov. 2019 Moderates should make the affirmative case for what the far left has been writing off as wishy-washy realpolitik. Catherine Rampell, The Denver Post, "Rampell: Perhaps Sanders and Warren are the ones being politically expedient," 20 Oct. 2019 Their mythopoetics and realpolitik compel listeners from song to song, transporting us to a place where stakes are higher, money is faster, and possibilities are at once limited and infinite. Briana Younger, The New Yorker, "The Controversial Use of Rap Lyrics as Evidence," 20 Sep. 2019 To the Arabs, Israel may be an SOB, but it is now perceived as one of their own SOBs, and Americans should know that better than anyone given their own prior Cold War realpolitik. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Israel’s Good and Bad New Realities," 3 Sep. 2019 Most firms are, like corporations before them, students of realpolitik. The Economist, "The Redmond doctrine," 12 Sep. 2019 Machiavellian realpolitik can get you far in life, but only so far. Vance Serchuk, National Review, "Russia’s Middle East Power Play," 12 Sep. 2019 Now the Kremlin has reversed that defeat by harnessing precisely the principles of realpolitik that propelled American strategy to triumph in the region in an earlier era. Vance Serchuk, National Review, "Russia’s Middle East Power Play," 12 Sep. 2019 But that kind of nihilistic realpolitik is no match for the emotions such agents traffic in. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "The Family’s Big Secret Is Hiding in Plain Sight," 14 Aug. 2019

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

1895, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for realpolitik

German, from real actual + Politik politics

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Time Traveler for realpolitik

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The first known use of realpolitik was in 1895

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Cite this Entry

“Realpolitik.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce realpolitik (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of realpolitik

: a system of politics based on a country's situation and its needs rather than on ideas about what is morally right and wrong

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