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 More than a realpolitik realignment, the Saudi drift closer to China’s orbit is also being driven by young Saudis who perceive greater opportunities with a China on the rise. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, 14 July 2022 As former chair of the Federal Communications Commission under Obama and president and CEO of the National Cable Television Association, Wheeler has extensive experience in the realpolitik of government and media regulation. David Zurawik, CNN, 16 May 2022 Henry Kissinger, the ancient guru of realpolitik, has joined Macron in urging Ukrainian concessions. William Falk, The Week, 11 June 2022 These war supporters shared a particular kind of American hubris and naïveté, an eagerness to ignore the realpolitik behind our interventions in the oil-rich Middle East while intoning fine words about the spread of freedom and democracy. New York Times, 8 June 2022 But some of the fence-sitting is down to hard-nosed realpolitik. Monica Mark, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 Apr. 2022 For me, a sensible definition of realpolitik is to say there are objective circumstances without which foreign policy cannot be conducted. Jeffrey Fields, The Conversation, 4 Apr. 2022 But polls show that Orbán’s realpolitik and cautious approach to Ukraine are winning him voters who prize stability. John Fund, National Review, 29 Mar. 2022 The more sober historical analyses of India’s foreign policy invoke the realpolitik of India’s reliance on Soviet/Russian military hardware. Anjani Jain, Fortune, 23 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of realpolitik

1895, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for realpolitik

German, from real actual + Politik politics

Learn More About realpolitik

Time Traveler for realpolitik

Time Traveler

The first known use of realpolitik was in 1895

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near realpolitik

real part



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for realpolitik

Last Updated

19 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Realpolitik.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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