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[jer-i-man-der, ger-] /ˈdʒɛr ɪˌmæn dər, ˈgɛr-/
U.S. Politics. the dividing of a state, county, etc., into election districts so as to give one political party a majority in many districts while concentrating the voting strength of the other party into as few districts as possible.
verb (used with object)
U.S. Politics. to subject (a state, county, etc.) to a gerrymander.
Origin of gerrymander
1812, Americanism; after E. Gerry (governor of Massachusetts, whose party redistricted the state in 1812) + (sala)mander, from the fancied resemblance of the map of Essex County, Mass., to this animal, after the redistricting
Related forms
gerrymanderer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for gerrymandering
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He proceeded to enlarge upon his plan for gerrymandering the state—to the advantage of the Democratic party, of course.

    A Spoil of Office Hamlin Garland
  • He was re-elected six times, but in 1890 was defeated by the gerrymandering of his district.

  • For a naked, avowed plan of gerrymandering no Government surely ever did beat this one.

    My Own Story Emmeline Pankhurst
  • The once famous phrase, gerrymandering, some of our readers may remember.

  • For contemporary allusions to this first example of gerrymandering, see Writings of Washington, ix.

    Patrick Henry Moses Coit Tyler
British Dictionary definitions for gerrymandering


to divide the constituencies of (a voting area) so as to give one party an unfair advantage
to manipulate or adapt to one's advantage
an act or result of gerrymandering
Derived Forms
gerrymandering, noun
Word Origin
C19: from Elbridge Gerry, US politician + (sala)mander; from the salamander-like outline of an electoral district reshaped (1812) for political purposes while Gerry was governor of Massachusetts
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
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Word Origin and History for gerrymandering


1812 as both a noun and verb, American English, from Elbridge Gerry + (sala)mander. Gerry, governor of Massachusetts, was lampooned when his party redistricted the state in a blatant bid to preserve an Antifederalist majority. One Essex County district resembled a salamander, and a newspaper editor dubbed it Gerrymander. Related: Gerrymandered; gerrymandering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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gerrymandering in Culture
gerrymander [(jer-ee-man-duhr)]

To change the boundaries of legislative districts to favor one party over another. Typically, the dominant party in a state legislature (which is responsible for drawing the boundaries of congressional districts) will try to concentrate the opposing party's strength in as few districts as possible, while giving itself likely majorities in as many districts as possible.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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