• (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpɒləsi/, /ˈpɒlɪsi/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈpɑləsi/
  • (file)

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle French policie, from Late Latin politia (citizenship; government), classical Latin polītīa (in Cicero), from Ancient Greek πολιτεία (politeía, citizenship; polis, (city) state; government), from πολίτης (polítēs, citizen). Compare police and polity.


policy (countable and uncountable, plural policies)

  1. A principle of behaviour, conduct etc. thought to be desirable or necessary, especially as formally expressed by a government or other authoritative body. [from 15th c.]
    The Communist Party has a policy of returning power to the workers.
    It's company policy that all mobile phones are forbidden in meetings.
  2. Wise or advantageous conduct; prudence, formerly also with connotations of craftiness. [from 15th c.]
    • 1813, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Modern Library Edition (1995), page 140:
      These bitter accusations might have been suppressed, had I with greater policy concealed my struggles, and flattered you []
    • 1639, Thomas Fuller, The Historie of the Holy Warre
      The very policy of an hostess, finding his purse so far above his clothes, did detect him.
  3. (now rare) Specifically, political shrewdness or (formerly) cunning; statecraft. [from 15th c.]
    • 1946, Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, I.25:
      Whether he believed himself a god, or only took on the attributes of divinity from motives of policy, is a question for the psychologist, since the historical evidence is indecisive.
  4. (Scotland, now chiefly in the plural) The grounds of a large country house. [from 18th c.]
    • 1955, Robin Jenkins, The Cone-Gatherers, Canongate 2012, page 36:
      Next morning was so splendid that as he walked through the policies towards the mansion house despair itself was lulled.
  5. (obsolete) The art of governance; political science. [14th–18th c.]
    • a. 1616, William Shakespeare, Henry V, I.1:
      List his discourse of Warre; and you shall heare / A fearefull Battaile rendred you in Musique. / Turne him to any Cause of Pollicy, / The Gordian Knot of it he will vnloose, / Familiar as his Garter []
  6. (obsolete) A state; a polity. [14th–16th c.]
  7. (obsolete) A set political system; civil administration. [15th–19th c.]
  8. (obsolete) A trick; a stratagem. [15th–19th c.]
    • a. 1594, William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus:
      'Tis pollicie, and stratageme must doe / That you affect, and so must you resolue, / That what you cannot as you would atcheiue, / You must perforce accomplish as you may.
  9. (obsolete) Motive; object; inducement.
Derived termsEdit
Terms derived from policy
  • Burmese: ပေါ်လစီ (paula.ci)


policy (third-person singular simple present policies, present participle policying, simple past and past participle policied)

  1. (transitive) To regulate by laws; to reduce to order.

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle French police, from Italian polizza, from Medieval Latin apodissa (receipt for money), from Ancient Greek ἀπόδειξις (apódeixis, proof, declaration)


policy (plural policies)

  1. (law)
    1. A contract of insurance.
    2. A document containing or certifying this contract.
      Your insurance policy covers fire and theft only.
  2. (obsolete) An illegal daily lottery in late nineteenth and early twentieth century USA on numbers drawn from a lottery wheel (no plural)
  3. A number pool lottery
Derived termsEdit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Further readingEdit