republic

noun

re·​pub·​lic ri-ˈpə-blik How to pronounce republic (audio)
1
a(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

Did you know?

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 Sign up for Democracy, Refreshed, a newsletter series on how to renovate the republic. Catherine Rampell, Washington Post, 9 July 2024 That’s what our republic has been celebrated for since our Founding Fathers said no to dictatorship. John D. Witiak, Baltimore Sun, 6 July 2024 Gunmen opened fire at multiple places of worship and a police traffic stop in two cities in the Muslim-majority republic on June 23, killing at least 15 police officers and at least four civilians, including an Orthodox priest, according to authorities. Mariya Knight, CNN, 3 July 2024 But modern Democrats are arguing that features of the constitutional republic like the Electoral College, the filibuster, and the Senate itself are undemocratic. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner - Political News and Conservative Analysis About Congress, the President, and the Federal Government, 2 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for republic 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'republic.' 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

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

First Known Use

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

Time Traveler
The first known use of republic was in 1596

Dictionary Entries Near republic

Cite this Entry

“Republic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/republic. Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

republic

noun
re·​pub·​lic ri-ˈpəb-lik How to pronounce republic (audio)
1
: a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who is usually a president
2
: a government in which supreme power belongs to the citizens through their right to vote
3
: a political unit having a republican form of government
4
: a political and territorial unit of the former nations of the U.S.S.R., Czechoslovakia, or Yugoslavia
Etymology

from French république "republic," derived from Latin respublica "republic, public matters, commonweal," literally "public things," from res "thing, matter" and publica, a feminine form of publicus "relating to the people as a whole, public" — related to public, real, rebus

Legal Definition

republic

noun
re·​pub·​lic
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

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