Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

caucus

[kaw-kuh s]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural cau·cus·es.
  1. U.S. Politics.
    1. a meeting of party leaders to select candidates, elect convention delegates, etc.
    2. a meeting of party members within a legislative body to select leaders and determine strategy.
    3. (often initial capital letter)a faction within a legislative body that pursues its interests through the legislative process: the Women's Caucus; the Black Caucus.
  2. any group or meeting organized to further a special interest or cause.
Show More
verb (used without object)
  1. to hold or meet in a caucus.
Show More
verb (used with object)
  1. to bring up or hold for discussion in a caucus: The subject was caucused. The group caucused the meeting.
Show More

Origin of caucus

1755–65, Americanism; apparently first used in the name of the Caucus Club of colonial Boston; perhaps < Medieval Latin caucus drinking vessel, Late Latin caucum < Greek kaûkos; alleged Virginia Algonquian orig. less probable
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for caucus

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples


British Dictionary definitions for caucus

caucus

noun plural -cuses
  1. mainly US and Canadian
    1. a closed meeting of the members of one party in a legislative chamber, etc, to coordinate policy, choose candidates, etc
    2. such a bloc of politiciansthe Democratic caucus in Congress
  2. mainly US
    1. a group of leading politicians of one party
    2. a meeting of such a group
  3. mainly US a local meeting of party members
  4. British a group or faction within a larger group, esp a political party, who discuss tactics, choose candidates, etc
  5. Australian a group of MPs from one party who meet to discuss tactics, etc
  6. NZ a formal meeting of all Members of Parliament belonging to one political party
Show More
verb
  1. (intr) to hold a caucus
Show More

Word Origin

C18: probably of Algonquian origin; related to caucauasu adviser
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for caucus

n.

"private meeting of party leaders," 1763, American English (New England), perhaps from an Algonquian word caucauasu "counselor, elder, adviser" in the dialect of Virginia, or from the Caucus Club of Boston, a 1760s social & political club whose name possibly derived from Modern Greek kaukos "drinking cup." Another old guess is caulker's (meeting) [Pickering, 1816], but OED finds this dismissable.

caucus: "This noun is used throughout the United States, as a cant term for those meetings, which are held by the different political parties, for the purpose of agreeing upon candidates for office, or concerting any measure, which they intend to carry at the subsequent public, or town meetings." [John Pickering, "A Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases Which Have Been Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States of America," Boston, 1816]



The word caucus, and its derivative caucusing, are often used in Boston. The last answers much to what we stile parliamenteering or electioneering. All my repeated applications to different gentlemen have not furnished me with a satisfactory account of the origin of caucus. It seems to mean, a number of persons, whether more or less, met together to consult upon adopting and prosecuting some scheme of policy, for carrying a favorite point. [William Gordon, "History, Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United States of America," London, 1788]
Show More

v.

1850, from caucus (n.), but caucusing is attested from 1788.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

caucus in Culture

caucus

[(kaw-kuhs)]

A meeting of members of a political party to nominate candidates, choose convention delegates, plan campaign tactics, determine party policy, or select leaders for a legislature.

Show More
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.