from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.
  • noun Political science.
  • noun The activities or affairs engaged in by a government, politician, or political party.
  • noun The methods or tactics involved in managing a state or government.
  • noun Political life.
  • noun Intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or a group in order to gain control or power.
  • noun Political attitudes and positions.
  • noun The often internally conflicting interrelationships among people in a society.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The science or practice of government; the regulation and government of a nation or state for the preservation of its safety, peace, and prosperity.
  • noun In a narrower and more usual sense the art or vocation of guiding or influencing the policy of a government through the organization of a party among its citizens—including, therefore, not only the ethics of government, but more especially, and often to the exclusion of ethical principles, the art of influencing public opinion, attracting and marshaling voters, and obtaining and distributing public patronage, so far as the possession of offices may depend upon the political opinions or political services of individuals; hence, in an evil sense, the schemes and intrigues of political parties, or of cliques or individual politicians: as, the newspapers were full of politics.
  • noun Political opinions; party connection or preference.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The science of government; that part of ethics which has to do with the regulation and government of a nation or state, the preservation of its safety, peace, and prosperity, the defense of its existence and rights against foreign control or conquest, the augmentation of its strength and resources, and the protection of its citizens in their rights, with the preservation and improvement of their morals.
  • noun The management of a political party; the conduct and contests of parties with reference to political measures or the administration of public affairs; the advancement of candidates to office; in a bad sense, artful or dishonest management to secure the success of political candidates or parties; political trickery.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun countable A methodology and activities associated with running a government, an organization, or a movement.
  • noun countable The profession of conducting political affairs.
  • noun countable One's political stands and opinions.
  • noun uncountable Political maneuvers or diplomacy between people, groups, or organizations, especially involving power, influence or conflict.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the opinion you hold with respect to political questions
  • noun the activities and affairs involved in managing a state or a government
  • noun social relations involving intrigue to gain authority or power
  • noun the profession devoted to governing and to political affairs
  • noun the study of government of states and other political units


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the adjective politic, by analogy with Aristotle’s "τα πολιτικά" ('affairs of state').


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  • Politics: "A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles"

    December 21, 2006

  • "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies."

    - Groucho Marx.

    December 24, 2007

  • "Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important." Eugene McCarthy, US politician (1916 - 2005).

    December 29, 2007

  • Here's another good one:

    "There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president." Kurt Vonnegut, "Cold Turkey", In These Times, May 10, 2004, US novelist (1922 - 2007).

    February 27, 2008

  • SoG, you beat me to it. Just saw that quote for the first time yesterday. How timely. :-)

    February 27, 2008

  • I like this spoof etymology (for which I don't know the attribution): poly, meaning many, and ticks, meaning small blood-sucking parasites.

    February 28, 2008

  • "The art of governing mankind by deceiving them"

    Curiosities of Literature, by Isaac Disraeli

    June 21, 2008

  • The word 'politics' is derived from the word 'poly', meaning 'many', and the word 'ticks', meaning 'blood sucking parasites'. - Larry Hardiman

    March 8, 2009

  • Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

    Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

    Just to reiterate and complete the initial quote that started off this thread, and to provide a source.

    September 17, 2009