noun (used with a singular or plural verb)


    play politics,
    1. to engage in political intrigue, take advantage of a political situation or issue, resort to partisan politics, etc.; exploit a political system or political relationships.
    2. to deal with people in an opportunistic, manipulative, or devious way, as for job advancement.

Origin of politics

First recorded in 1520–30; see origin at politic, -ics
Related formsan·ti·pol·i·tics, adjectivepro·pol·i·tics, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for politics

Contemporary Examples of politics

Historical Examples of politics

  • He who gives his mind to politics, sails on a stormy sea, with a giddy pilot.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Politics, for example, would be less entertaining without it.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Judged by the discussions of to-day, what advance has in politics been effected?

    'Tis Sixty Years Since

    Charles Francis Adams

  • Of course, in times of peace, they may facilitate the common business of politics.

  • He has been the very madman of politics from the point of view of Mr. Worldly Wiseman.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

British Dictionary definitions for politics



(functioning as singular) the practice or study of the art and science of forming, directing, and administrating states and other political units; the art and science of government; political science
(functioning as singular) the complex or aggregate of relationships of people in society, esp those relationships involving authority or power
(functioning as plural) political activities or affairsparty politics
(functioning as singular) the business or profession of politics
(functioning as singular or plural) any activity concerned with the acquisition of power, gaining one's own ends, etccompany politics are frequently vicious
(functioning as plural) opinions, principles, sympathies, etc, with respect to politicshis conservative politics
(functioning as plural)
  1. the policy-formulating aspects of government as distinguished from the administrative, or legal
  2. the civil functions of government as distinguished from the military
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 politics

1520s, "science of government," from politic (adj.), modeled on Aristotle's ta politika "affairs of state," the name of his book on governing and governments, which was in English mid-15c. as "Polettiques." Also see -ics.

Politicks is the science of good sense, applied to public affairs, and, as those are forever changing, what is wisdom to-day would be folly and perhaps, ruin to-morrow. Politicks is not a science so properly as a business. It cannot have fixed principles, from which a wise man would never swerve, unless the inconstancy of men's view of interest and the capriciousness of the tempers could be fixed. [Fisher Ames (1758-1808)]

Meaning "a person's political allegiances or opinions" is from 1769.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with politics


see play politics.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.