policy

1 of 2

noun (1)

pol·​i·​cy ˈpä-lə-sē How to pronounce policy (audio)
plural policies
often attributive
1
a
: prudence or wisdom in the management of affairs
b
: management or procedure based primarily on material interest
2
a
: a definite course or method of action selected from among alternatives and in light of given conditions to guide and determine present and future decisions
b
: a high-level overall plan embracing the general goals and acceptable procedures especially of a governmental body

policy

2 of 2

noun (2)

plural policies
1
: a writing whereby a contract of insurance is made
2
a
: a daily lottery in which participants bet that certain numbers will be drawn from a lottery wheel

Examples of policy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
In the recent study, Sola and his co-author Justin Pickett, criminology professor at the State University of New York at Albany, asked people to pick between different types of neighbors in order to understand how their policy preferences align with their immediate environments. Gabrielle Lamarr Lemee, Los Angeles Times, 11 Apr. 2024 The department did not provide details on the policy violation. Miguel Torres, The Arizona Republic, 11 Apr. 2024 Wu Qing, who turns 59 this month, also recently joined the People’s Bank of China’s monetary policy committee. Bloomberg, Fortune Asia, 11 Apr. 2024 The president has argued that further improvement would be possible if Republicans in Congress would back his policies. Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports, arkansasonline.com, 11 Apr. 2024 Inspired by the iconic live-action sitcom of the 1970s, the new show’s use of the beloved title conjures notions of familial fabric and community cohesion, amid challenges of generational poverty and stifling social policies that perpetuate inequitable caste conditions. Kyle Bowser, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 Apr. 2024 Firms with more centralized human resources departments and policies also exhibited less racial bias, which Kline says may indicate that a standardized hiring workflow involving multiple employees could help reduce discrimination. Joe Hernandez, NPR, 11 Apr. 2024 The policy meeting at the bank’s skyscraper headquarters in Frankfurt is widely regarded as a prelude to a likely rate cut at the next meeting on June 6, after Lagarde dropped a broad hint by saying that the bank would have more information on the path of inflation at that meeting. David McHugh, Fortune Europe, 11 Apr. 2024 Musk's philanthropic endeavors have the potential to follow a similar trajectory, driving impactful change through strategic investments in policy advocacy. Michael Sheldrick, Forbes, 30 Mar. 2024

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English policie, pollecye "art or practice of government, system of government, commonwealth, organization or conduct of affairs, practical skill, prudence," borrowed from Anglo-French policie, pollecie "governance, system of government" (Middle French also, "a political organization, the state, conduct, behavior"), borrowed from Late Latin polītīa "citizenship, political organization, government" — more at police entry 1

Note: The term is a doublet of police entry 1; see note at that entry.

Noun (2)

earlier police, pollecy (in the phrase police/pollecy of assurance, after French pollice d'assurance), borrowed from Middle French police, pollice "certificate, written proof," probably borrowed from Italian polizza, pollizza "receipt, promissory note," alteration of apodissa, appodissa (by absorption of initial a- by the definite article and shift of -d- to a lateral), borrowed from Medieval Latin apodixa, apodissa "receipt," borrowed from Middle Greek apódeixis, going back to Greek, "making known, proof," from apodeik-, stem of apodeíknymi, apodeiknýnai "to point out, make known, prove" + -sis -sis — more at apodictic

Note: The English variant with -cy is presumably assimilation to policy entry 1, ending in a familiar suffix; it appears to have displaced police at an early date. — Middle French police has also been taken as a loan from Old Occitan polissia, itself borrowed from Italian, or directly from Medieval Latin or Greek; the editors of Trésor de la langue française reject this on grounds of the location of the earliest citations. The shift of a dental to a lateral in (apodissa > polizza) is perhaps best explained as direct borrowing into Italian from vernacular Greek, where the dental would have been a voiced interdental fricative; as Italian lacked this sound, it was transferred as an -l- (compare the etymology of pilot entry 1). This alters somewhat the path of transmission in the etymology above, perhaps removing Medieval Latin as an intermediary.

First Known Use

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of policy was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near policy

Cite this Entry

“Policy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/policy. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

policy

1 of 2 noun
pol·​i·​cy ˈpäl-ə-sē How to pronounce policy (audio)
plural policies
: a course of action chosen in order to guide people in making decisions
a country's foreign policy

policy

2 of 2 noun
plural policies
: a document that contains the agreement made by an insurance company with a person whose life or property is insured

Legal Definition

policy

1 of 2 noun
pol·​i·​cy ˈpä-lə-sē How to pronounce policy (audio)
plural policies
: an overall plan, principle, or guideline
especially : one formulated outside of the judiciary
obligated to consider legislative policy on the matter in their decision

policy

2 of 2 noun
plural policies
: a contract of insurance
also : the written instrument of such a contract

More from Merriam-Webster on policy

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