from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. 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.
  • n. Political science.
  • n. The activities or affairs engaged in by a government, politician, or political party: "All politics is local” ( Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr.) "Politics have appealed to me since I was at Oxford because they are exciting morning, noon, and night” ( Jeffrey Archer).
  • n. The methods or tactics involved in managing a state or government: The politics of the former regime were rejected by the new government leadership. If the politics of the conservative government now borders on the repressive, what can be expected when the economy falters?
  • n. Political life: studied law with a view to going into politics; felt that politics was a worthwhile career.
  • n. Intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power: Partisan politics is often an obstruction to good government. Office politics are often debilitating and counterproductive.
  • n. Political attitudes and positions: His politics on that issue is his own business. Your politics are clearly more liberal than mine.
  • n. The often internally conflicting interrelationships among people in a society.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • n. 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 The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The science or practice of government; the regulation and government of a nation or state for the preservation of its safety, peace, and prosperity.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Political opinions; party connection or preference.

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

  • n. the opinion you hold with respect to political questions
  • n. the activities and affairs involved in managing a state or a government
  • n. social relations involving intrigue to gain authority or power
  • n. the profession devoted to governing and to political affairs
  • n. 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').



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • 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

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

    March 8, 2009

  • "The art of governing mankind by deceiving them"

    Curiosities of Literature, by Isaac Disraeli

    June 21, 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

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

    February 27, 2008

  • 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

  • "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

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

    - Groucho Marx.

    December 24, 2007

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

    December 21, 2006