or Mach·i·a·vel·i·an

[ mak-ee-uh-vel-ee-uh n ]
/ ˌmæk i əˈvɛl i ən /


of, like, or befitting Machiavelli.
being or acting in accordance with the principles of government analyzed in Machiavelli's The Prince, in which political expediency is placed above morality and the use of craft and deceit to maintain the authority and carry out the policies of a ruler is described.
characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency, or dishonesty: He resorted to Machiavellian tactics in order to get ahead.


a follower of the principles analyzed or described in The Prince, especially with reference to techniques of political manipulation.

Origin of Machiavellian

First recorded in 1560–70; Machiavelli + -an

OTHER WORDS FROM Machiavellian

Mach·i·a·vel·li·an·ism, Mach·i·a·vel·lism, nounMach·i·a·vel·li·an·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for machiavelian

British Dictionary definitions for machiavelian



/ (ˌmækɪəˈvɛlɪən) /

adjective (sometimes not capital)

of or relating to the alleged political principles of Machiavelli; cunning, amoral, and opportunist


a cunning, amoral, and opportunist person, esp a politician

Derived forms of Machiavellian

Machiavellianism or Machiavellism, nounMachiavellist, adjective, noun
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