Political Terms and Definitions

attorney general n., pl. attorneys general or attorney generals. Abbr. A.G., AG, Att. Gen., Atty. Gen. Law. 1. The chief law officer and legal counsel of the government of a state or nation. 2. Attorney General. The head of the U.S. Department of Justice and a member of the President's cabinet.

cap·i·tal·ism (k²p“¹-tl-¹z”…m) n. An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the

chief of staff n., pl. chiefs of staff. Abbr. CS, C. of S. 1. Often Chief of Staff. The ranking officer of the U.S. Army or Air Force, responsible to the secretary of his or her branch and to the President. 2. The senior military staff officer at the division level or higher.

cit·i·zen (s¹t“¹-z…n) n. Abbr. cit. 1. A person owing loyalty to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state or nation. 2. A resident of a city or town, especially one entitled to vote and enjoy other privileges there. 3. A civilian. 4. A native, inhabitant, or denizen of a particular place. --cit“i·zen·ly adj.

com·mu·nism (k¼m“y…-n¹z”…m) n. 1. A theoretical economic system characterized by the collective ownership of property and by the organization of labor for the common advantage of all members. 2. Communism. a. A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people. b. The Marxist-Leninist version of Communist doctrine that advocates the overthrow of capitalism by the revolution of the proletariat.

con·gress (k¼ng“gr¹s) n. 1. A formal assembly of representatives, as of various nations, to discuss problems. 2. The national legislative body of a nation, especially a republic. 3. Congress. Abbr. Cong., C. a. The national legislative body of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. b. The two-year session of this legislature between elections of the House of Representatives. 4.a. The act of coming together or meeting. b. A single meeting, as of a political party or other group. 5. Sexual intercourse. --con·gres“sion·al (k…n-grµsh“…-n…l, k…ng-) adj. --con·gres“sion·al·ly adv.





con·ser·va·tive (k…n-sûr“v…-t¹v) adj. 1. Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change. 2. Traditional or restrained in style. 3. Moderate; cautious. 4.a. Of or relating to the political philosophy of conservatism. b. Belonging to a conservative party, group, or movement. 5. Conservative. Of or belonging to the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom or the Progressive Conservative Party in Canada. 6. Conservative. Of or adhering to Conservative Judaism. 7. Tending to conserve; preservative. --con·ser·va·tive n. 1. One favoring traditional views and values. 2. A supporter of political conservatism. 3. Conservative. Abbr. C. A member or supporter of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom or the Progressive Conservative Party in Canada. 4. Archaic. A preservative agent or principle. --con·ser“va·tive·ly adv. --con·ser“va·tive·ness n.accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.

de·moc·ra·cy (d¹-m¼k“r…-s¶) n., pl. de·moc·ra·cies. 1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives. 2. A political or social unit that has such a government. 3. The common people, considered as the primary source of political power. 4. Majority rule. 5. The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.

dem·o·crat (dµm“…-kr²t”) n. 1. An advocate of democracy. 2. Democrat. Abbr. Dem., D, D. A member of the Democratic Party.

dem·o·crat·ic (dµm”…-kr²t“¹k) adj. 1. Of, characterized by, or advocating democracy. 2. Of or for the people in general; popular. 3. Believing in or practicing social equality. 4. Democratic. Abbr. Dem., D, D. Of, relating to, or characteristic of the Democratic Party. --dem”o·crat“i·cal·ly

democratic party n. One of the two major political parties in the United States, owing its origin to a split in the Democratic-Republican Party under Andrew Jackson in 1828.

dic·ta·tor (d¹k“t³”t…r, d¹k-t³“-) n. 1.a. An absolute ruler. b. A tyrant; a despot. 2. An ancient Roman magistrate appointed temporarily to deal with an immediate crisis or emergency. 3. One who dictates.

ex·trem·ist (¹k-str¶“m¹st) n. One who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm, especially in politics. --ex·trem“ism n. --ex·trem“ist adj.

fas·cism (f²sh“¹z”…m) n. 1. Often Fascism.a. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government. 2. Oppressive, dictatorial control. --fas·cis“tic (f…-sh¹s“t¹k) adj.

free·dom (fr¶“d…m) n. 1. The condition of being free of restraints. 2. Liberty of the person from slavery, detention, or oppression. 3.a. Political independence. b. Possession of civil rights; immunity from the arbitrary exercise of authority. 4. Exemption from an unpleasant or onerous condition. 5. The capacity to exercise choice; free will. 6. Ease or facility of movement. 7. Frankness or boldness; lack of modesty or reserve. 8.a. The right to unrestricted use; full access. b. The right of enjoying all of the privileges of membership or citizenship.



green card n. An official document issued by the U.S. government to aliens, allowing them to work legally in the United States.

house (hous) n., pl. House. a. A legislative or deliberative assembly. b. The hall or chamber in which such an assembly meets. c. A quorum of such an assembly.

im·mi·grant (¹m“¹-gr…nt) n. 1. A person who leaves one country to settle permanently in another. 2. A plant or an animal that establishes itself in an area where it previously did not exist.

im·mi·grate (¹m“¹-gr³t”) v. im·mi·grat·ed, im·mi·grat·ing, im·mi·grates. --intr. 1. To enter and settle in a country or region to which one is not native. --tr. To send or introduce as immigrants. --im”mi·gra“tion n.

in·de·pend·ent (¹n”d¹-pµn“d…nt) adj. Abbr. ind. 1. Not governed by a foreign power; self-governing. 2. Free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others; self-reliant. 3. Not determined or influenced by someone or something else; not contingent. 4. Often Independent. Affiliated with or loyal to no one political party or organization. 5. Not dependent on or affiliated with a larger or controlling group or system. 6.a. Not relying on others for support, care, or funds; self-supporting. b. Providing or being sufficient income to enable one to live without working. 7. Mathematics. a. Not dependent on other variables. b. Of or relating to a system of equations no one of which can be derived from another equation in the system. 8. Independent. Of or relating to the 17th-century English Independents. --in·de·pend·ent n. 1. Often Independent. One that is independent, especially a voter, an officeholder, or a political candidate who is not committed to a political party. 2. Independent. A member of a movement in England in the 17th century advocating the political and religious independence of individual congregations. 3. Independent. Chiefly British. A Congregationalist.

in·sur·gent (¹n-sûr“j…nt) adj. 1. Rising in revolt against civil authority or a government in power; rebellious. --in·sur·gent n. 1. One that revolts against civil authority. 2. A member of a political party who rebels against its leadership. --in·sur“gent·ly adv.

left wing also Left Wing n. 1. The liberal or radical faction of a group. 2. See left1. --left“-wing“ (lµft“w¹ng“) adj. --left“-wing“er n.

left·ism also Left·ism (lµf“t¹z”…m) n. 1. The ideology of the political left. 2. Belief in or support of the tenets of the political left. --left“ist adj. & n.

leg·is·la·ture (lµj“¹-sl³”ch…r) n. Abbr. leg., legis. An officially elected or otherwise selected body of people vested with the responsibility and power to make laws for a political unit, such as a state or nation.

lib·er·al (l¹b“…r-…l, l¹b“r…l) adj. Abbr. lib. 1.a. Not limited to or by established, traditional,orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry. b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded. c. Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism. d. Liberal. Abbr. Lib. Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States. 2.a. Tending to give freely; generous. b. Generous in amount; ample. 3. Not strict or literal; loose or approximate. 4. Of, relating to, or based on the traditional arts and sciences of a college or university curriculum. 5.a. Archaic. Permissible or appropriate for a person of free birth; befitting a lady or gentleman. b. Obsolete. Morally unrestrained; licentious. --lib·er·al n. 1. A person with liberal ideas or opinions. 2. Liberal. Abbr. Lib. A member of a Liberal political party. --lib“er·al·ly adv. --lib“er·al·ness n.



lib·er·tar·i·an (l¹b”…r-târ“¶-…n) n. 1. One who believes in freedom of action and thought. 2. One who believes in free will. --lib”er·tar“i·an·ism n

Marx·ism (märk“s¹z”…m) n. The political and economic ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, specifically a system of thought in which the concept of class struggle plays a primary role in analyzing Western society in general and in understanding its allegedly inevitable development from bourgeois oppression under capitalism to a socialist society and thence to Communism.

op·press (…-prµs“) tr.v. op·pressed, op·press·ing, op·press·es. 1. To keep down by severe and unjust use of force or authority. 2. To weigh heavily on. 3. Obsolete. To overwhelm or crush. --op·pres“sor n.

pol·i·tics (p¼l“¹-t¹ks) n. Abbr. pol., polit. 1. (used with a sing. verb).a. The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs. b. Political science. 2. (used with a sing. or pl. verb).a. The activities or affairs engaged in by a government, politician, or political party. b. The methods or tactics involved in managing a state or government. 3. (used with a sing. or pl. verb). Political life. 4. (used with a sing. or pl. verb). Intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or a group in order to gain control or power. 5. (used with a sing. or pl. verb). Political attitudes and positions. 6. (used with a sing. or pl. verb). The often internally conflicting interrelationships among people in a society.

po·lit·i·cal (p…-l¹t“¹-k…l) adj. Abbr. pol., polit. 1. Of, relating to, or dealing with the structure or affairs of government, politics, or the state. 2. Relating to, involving, or characteristic of politics, parties, or politicians. 3. Having or marked by a definite or organized policy or structure with regard to government. 4. Relating to or involving acts regarded as damaging to a government or state. --po·lit”i·cal·i·za“tion (-¹z³“sh…n) n. --po·lit“i·cal·ize” (-k…-lºz”) v. --po·lit“i·cal·ly adv.

political science n. The study of the processes, principles, and structure of government and of political institutions; politics.

pres·i·dent (prµz“¹-d…nt, -dµnt”) n. Abbr. pres., Pres., p., P. 1. One appointed or elected to preside over an organized body of people, such as an assembly or a meeting. 2.a. Often President. The chief executive of a republic. b. President. The chief executive of the United States, serving as both chief of state and chief political executive. 3. The chief officer of a branch of government, a corporation, a board of trustees, a university, or a similar body. --pres“i·dent·ship” n.

rep·re·sen·ta·tive (rµp”r¹-zµn“t…-t¹v) n. Abbr. rep., Rep. 1. One that serves as an example or a type for others of the same classification. 2. One that serves as a delegate or an agent for another. 3.a. A member of a governmental body, usually legislative, chosen by popular vote. b. A member of the U.S. House of Representatives or of the lower house of a state legislature. --rep·re·sen·ta·tive adj. 1. Representing, depicting, or portraying or able to do so. 2. Authorized to act as an official delegate or agent. 3. Of, relating to, or characteristic of government by representation. 4. Like or typical of others of the same class. --rep”re·sen“ta·tive·ly adv. --rep”re·sen“ta·tive·ness n.



re·pub·lic (r¹-p¾b“l¹k) n. Abbr. rep., Rep., Repub. 1.a. A political order whose head of state is not a monarch and in modern times is usually a president. b. A nation that has such a political order. 2.a. A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them. b. A nation that has such a political order. 3. Often Republic. A specific republican government of a nation. 4. An autonomous or partially autonomous political and territorial unit belonging to a sovereign federation. 5. A group of people working as equals in the same sphere or field.

re·pub·li·can (r¹-p¾b“l¹-k…n) adj. 1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a republic. 2. Being in favor of a republic as the best form of government. 3. Republican. Abbr. R., Rep., Repub. Of, relating to, characteristic of, or belonging to the Republican Party of the United States. --re·pub·li·can n. 1. One who favors a republic as the best form of government. 2. Republican. Abbr. R., Rep., Repub. A member of the Republican Party of the United States. --re·pub“li·can·ism n.

Republican Party n. 1. One of the two primary political parties of the United States, organized in 1854 to oppose slavery. 2. The Democratic-Republican Party, a former political party of the United States, organized in 1792 by Thomas Jefferson.

right wing n. 1. The conservative or reactionary faction of a group. 2. See right. --right“-wing“ (rºt“w¹ng“) adj. --right“-wing“er n.

sec·re·tar·y (sµk“r¹-tµr”¶) n., pl. sec·re·tar·ies. Abbr. sec., secy. 1. A person employed to handle correspondence, keep files, and do clerical work for another person or an organization. 2. An officer who keeps records, takes minutes of the meetings, and answers correspondence, as for a company. 3. An official who presides over an administrative department of state. 4. A desk with a small bookcase on top. --sec”re·tar“i·al (-târ“¶-…l) adj.

sen·ate (sµn“¹t) n. Abbr. sen., Sen. 1. An assembly or a council of citizens having the highest deliberative and legislative functions in a government, specifically: a. Senate. The upper house of the U.S. Congress, to which two members are elected from each state by popular vote for a six-year term. b. Often Senate. The upper house in the bicameral legislature of many states in the United States. c. Senate. The upper legislative house in Canada, France, and some other countries. d. The supreme council of state of the ancient Roman Republic and later of the Roman Empire. 2. The building or hall in which such a council or assembly meets. 3. A governing, advisory, or disciplinary body of some colleges and universities composed of faculty members and sometimes student representatives.

sen·a·tor (sµn“…-t…r) n. Abbr. sen., Sen. A member of a senate. --sen“a·tor·ship” n.

so·cial·ism (s½“sh…-l¹z”…m) n. 1.a. A social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community. b. The theory or practice of those who support such a social system. 2. The building of the material base for communism under the dictatorship of the proletariat in Marxist-Leninist theory.

speak·er (sp¶“k…r) n. 1.a. One who speaks. b. A spokesperson. 2. One who delivers a public speech. 3. Often Speaker. The presiding officer of a legislative assembly. 4. A loudspeaker. --speak“er·ship” n.



ter·ror·ism (tµr“…-r¹z”…m) n. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

ter·ror·ist (tµr“…r-¹st) n. 1. One that engages in acts or an act of terrorism. --ter·ror·ist adj. Of, relating to, or constituting terrorism. --ter”ror·is“tic adj.

un-de·clare (d¹-klâr“) v. de·clared, de·clar·ing, de·clares. --tr. 1. To NOT make known formally or officially. 2. To NOT state emphatically or authoritatively; affirm. 3. To NOT reveal or make manifest; show. 4. To NOT make a full statement of (dutiable goods, for example). 5. Games. To NOT designate (a trump suit or no-trump) with the final bid of a hand in bridge. --intr. 1. To NOT make a declaration. 2. To NOT proclaim one's support, choice, opinion, or resolution. --idiom. declare war. 1. To NOT state formally the intention to carry on armed hostilities against. 2. To NOT state one's intent to suppress or eradicate. --de·clar“a·ble adj. --de·clar“er n.

vice pres·i·dent or vice-pres·i·dent (vºs“prµz“¹-d…nt, -dµnt”) n. Abbr. VP, V.P. 1. An officer ranking next below a president, usually empowered to assume the president's duties under conditions such as absence, illness, or death. 2. A deputy to a president, especially in a corporation, in charge of a specific department or location. --vice-pres“i·den·cy (vºs-prµz“¹-d…n-s¶, -dµn”-) n. --vice-pres”i·den“tial (-dµn“sh…l) adj.