republic

noun
re·​pub·​lic | \ ri-ˈpə-blik How to pronounce republic (audio) \

Definition of republic

1a(1) : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president
(2) : a political unit (such as a nation) having such a form of government
b(1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law
(2) : a political unit (such as a nation) having such a form of government
c : a usually specified republican government of a political unit the French Fourth Republic
2 : a body of persons freely engaged in a specified activity the republic of letters
3 : a constituent political and territorial unit of the former nations of Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, or Yugoslavia

Is the United States a democracy or a republic?

One of the most commonly encountered questions about the word democracy has nothing to do with its spelling or pronunciation, and isn’t even directly related to the meaning of the word itself. That question is “is the United States a democracy or a republic?” The answer to this, as with so many other questions about meaning, may be phrased as some form of “it depends.”

Some people assert that a country calling itself a democracy must be engaged in direct (or pure) democracy, in which the people of a state or region vote directly for policies, rather than elect representatives who make choices on their behalf. People who follow this line of reasoning hold that the United States is more properly described as a republic, using the following definition of that word: "a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law."

However, both democracy and republic have more than a single meaning, and one of the definitions we provide for democracy closely resembles the definition of republic given above: "a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections."

So if someone asks you if the United States is a democracy or a republic, you may safely answer the question with either “both” or “it depends.”

Examples of republic in a Sentence

when asked by a passerby what sort of government the constitutional convention had formulated for the new nation, Benjamin Franklin memorably replied, “A republic, if you can keep it”
Recent Examples on the Web But to her credit, Cheney started speaking out publicly about the potential danger Trump posed to our republic – even before the 2020 election. Dean Obeidallah, CNN, 25 Sep. 2022 Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who had started laying the groundwork for an Australian republic after elections in May, said Sunday that now was the time not for a change but for paying tribute to the late queen. Mike Corder, Chicago Tribune, 11 Sep. 2022 Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who had started laying the groundwork for an Australian republic after elections in May, said Sunday that now was the time not for a change but for paying tribute to the late queen. Mike Corder, USA TODAY, 11 Sep. 2022 Demand for a republic has remained fairly static for decades — the most recent polling suggested nearly 70 percent of Britons support a monarchy, about the same as in the early 1990s. Patrick Kingsley, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Sep. 2022 Still, some lawmakers have campaigned for a republic. Mike Cherney, WSJ, 11 Sep. 2022 Those views were expressed by a small portion of those gathered Sunday, too, with anti-monarchist protesters turning their backs and shouting in support of a republic as the proclamation was read. Alexander Smith, NBC News, 11 Sep. 2022 Chokhkommuna is a small village that lies high up in the mountains in the center of the republic. Keith Gessen, The New Yorker, 18 Aug. 2022 Higher education had also been thrown into crisis by the collapse of the republic. New York Times, 8 Aug. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of republic

1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for republic

French république, from Middle French republique, from Latin respublica, from res thing, wealth + publica, feminine of publicus public — more at real, public

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Time Traveler for republic

Time Traveler

The first known use of republic was in 1596

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Dictionary Entries Near republic

reptiloid

republic

republican

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Statistics for republic

Last Updated

30 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Republic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/republic. Accessed 7 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for republic

republic

noun
re·​pub·​lic | \ ri-ˈpə-blik How to pronounce republic (audio) \

Kids Definition of republic

: a country with elected representatives and an elected chief of state who is not a monarch and who is usually a president

republic

noun
re·​pub·​lic

Legal Definition of republic

1 : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president also : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government
2 : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law also : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government

More from Merriam-Webster on republic

Nglish: Translation of republic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of republic for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about republic

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