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noun, plural po·leis [poh-lahys] /ˈpoʊ laɪs/.
  1. an ancient Greek city-state.
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Origin of polis

1890–95; < Greek pólis, plural (Ionic) póleis


  1. a combining form, meaning “city,” appearing in loanwords from Greek (metropolis), and used in the formation of placenames (Annapolis).
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Origin of -polis

combining form representing Greek pólis polis
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for polis


noun plural poleis (ˈpɒlaɪs)
  1. an ancient Greek city-state
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Word Origin

from Greek: city


  1. Scot and Irish the police or a police officer
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Word Origin

C19: a variant pronunciation of police
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 polis


"ancient Greek city-state," 1894, from Greek polis "city, one's city; the state, citizens," from PIE *pele- "citadel, enclosed space, often on high ground" (cf. Sanskrit pur, puram "city, citadel," Lithuanian pilis "fortress").

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word-forming element meaning "City," from Greek polis "city" (see polis).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper