or Re·al·po·li·tik

[rey-ahl-poh-li-teek, ree-]


political realism or practical politics, especially policy based on power rather than on ideals.

Origin of realpolitik

1910–15; < German, equivalent to real real1 + Politik politics, policy; see politic
Related formsre·al·po·li·tik·er [rey-ahl-poh-lee-ti-ker, ree-] /reɪˈɑl poʊˌli tɪ kər, ri-/, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for realpolitik

civics, government, politics, governance, statesmanship

Examples from the Web for realpolitik

Contemporary Examples of realpolitik

  • The rhetoric has been harsh, but given the realpolitik of East African foreign policy, the actions have been decidedly mixed.

  • And these odds were often set by realpolitik, rather than a moral compass.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Mandela: The Last Good Man

    Mark Gevisser

    December 5, 2013

  • Is it the realpolitik that in this era of uncertainty works to build alliances with friends rather than burning them on every end?

    The Daily Beast logo
    Daniel Gordis Has It Backwards

    Mark Baker

    December 11, 2012

  • Trying to build a one-state reality in the name of “inalienable rights and realpolitik” is treacherously dishonest.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Another Reason Dani Dayan is Wrong

    Elisheva Goldberg, Sahar Segal

    August 3, 2012

  • Once in power ideological purity does have to make some room for realpolitik, but realpolitik is not moderation.

    The Daily Beast logo
    When Will They Ever Learn?

    Yehudah Mirsky

    June 25, 2012

Historical Examples of realpolitik

British Dictionary definitions for realpolitik



a ruthlessly realistic and opportunist approach to statesmanship, rather than a moralistic one, esp as exemplified by Bismarck

Word Origin for realpolitik

C19: German: politics of realism
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 realpolitik

1914, from German Realpolitik, which can be translated as "practical politics." See real (adj.) + politics.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

realpolitik in Culture



Governmental policies based on hard, practical considerations rather than on moral or idealistic concerns. Realpolitik is German for “the politics of reality” and is often applied to the policies of nations that consider only their own interests in dealing with other countries.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.