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noun, plural pol·i·cies.
  1. a definite course of action adopted for the sake of expediency, facility, etc.: We have a new company policy.
  2. a course of action adopted and pursued by a government, ruler, political party, etc.: our nation's foreign policy.
  3. action or procedure conforming to or considered with reference to prudence or expediency: It was good policy to consent.
  4. sagacity; shrewdness: Showing great policy, he pitted his enemies against one another.
  5. Rare. government; polity.

Origin of policy1

1350–1400; Middle English policie government, civil administration < Middle French < Latin polītīa polity
Can be confusedpolicy polity


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1. strategy, principle, rule. 4. acumen, astuteness, skill, art.


4. ingenuousness, naiveté.


noun, plural pol·i·cies.
  1. a document embodying a contract of insurance.
  2. a method of gambling in which bets are made on numbers to be drawn by lottery.
  3. numbers pool(def 2).

Origin of policy2

1555–65; < Middle French police (< Italian polizza < Medieval Latin apodīxa receipt ≪ Greek apódeixis a showing or setting forth; see apodictic, -sis) + -y3
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for policy


noun plural -cies
  1. a plan of action adopted or pursued by an individual, government, party, business, etc
  2. wisdom, prudence, shrewdness, or sagacity
  3. Scot (often plural) the improved grounds surrounding a country house

Word Origin

C14: from Old French policie, from Latin polītīa administration, polity


noun plural -cies
  1. a document containing a contract of insurance

Word Origin

C16: from Old French police certificate, from Old Italian polizza, from Latin apodixis proof, from Greek apodeixis demonstration, proof
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 policy


"way of management," late 14c., policie, "study or practice of government; good government;" from Old French policie (14c.) "political organization, civil administration," from Late Latin politia "the state, civil administration," from Greek politeia "state, administration, government, citizenship," from polites "citizen," from polis "city, state" (see polis). Meaning "plan of action, way of management" first recorded c.1400.


"written insurance agreement," 1560s, from Middle French police "contract, bill of lading" (late 14c.), from Italian polizza "written evidence of a transaction," from Old Italian poliza, from Medieval Latin apodissa "receipt for money," from Greek apodexis "proof, declaration," from apo- "off" + deiknynia "to show," cognate with Latin dicere "to tell" (see diction).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper