sor·​ti·​tion | \ sȯr-ˈti-shən How to pronounce sortition (audio) \

Definition of sortition

: the act or an instance of casting lots

Examples of sortition in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web 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, "Trump, Pelosi, and the Squad Are Fighting Over Who Belongs in Government," 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, "Letters to the Editor," 4 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sortition.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of sortition

1597, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sortition

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sortition

Time Traveler for sortition

Time Traveler

The first known use of sortition was in 1597

See more words from the same year

Statistics for sortition

Cite this Entry

“Sortition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on sortition Encyclopedia article about sortition

Comments on sortition

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!