1570s, from Middle French démocratie (14c.), from Medieval Latin democratia (13c.), from Greek demokratia "popular government," from demos "common people," originally "district" (see demotic), + kratos "rule, strength" (see -cracy).
Democracy implies that the man must take the responsibility for choosing his rulers and representatives, and for the maintenance of his own 'rights' against the possible and probable encroachments of the government which he has sanctioned to act for him in public matters. [Ezra Pound, "ABC of Economics," 1933]
A system of government in which power is vested in the people, who rule either directly or through freely elected representatives.
Note: Democratic institutions, such as parliaments, may exist in a monarchy. Such constitutional monarchies as Britain, Canada, and Sweden are generally counted as democracies in practice.