sor·​ti·​tion sȯr-ˈti-shən How to pronounce sortition (audio)
: the act or an instance of casting lots

Examples of sortition in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The ancient Greeks invented democracy, and in Athens many government officials were selected through sortition — a random lottery from a pool of candidates. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 6 Sep. 2023 Citizens’ assemblies are the latest incarnation of an idea called sortition, the random selection of representatives, that dates back to classical Athens. Ariel Procaccia, Scientific American, 20 Oct. 2022 The Athenians’ respect for sortition is apparent in the ingenious design of their lottery machine, the kleroterion, which was used to select jurors. Ariel Procaccia, Scientific American, 20 Oct. 2022 Private property first appeared as a concept in sacred contexts, as did police functions and a whole panoply of formal democratic procedures, such as election and sortition. David Graeber, Harper's Magazine, 26 Oct. 2021 This sortition system would give you a more accurate, representative sample of what the public actually wants than a system of universal compulsory voting. Danielle Allen, Harper's Magazine, 27 Oct. 2020 The ancient Athenian choice of sortition—the selection of government by lottery—was based on the understanding that elections would inevitably favor the aristocracy, and in a democracy the government should be a mirror of the governed. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 15 July 2019 My book is a plea to enrich the current electoral model of representative democracy with an element of sortition: the use of random samples of everyday citizens who deliberate and make informed policy proposals. New York Times, 4 May 2018 See More

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

Word History


Latin sortition-, sortitio, from sortiri to cast or draw lots, from sort-, sors lot

First Known Use

1597, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sortition was in 1597

Dictionary Entries Near sortition

Cite this Entry

“Sortition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

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