• (British) IPA: /ˈpɒləsi/, /ˈpɒlɪsi/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈpɑləsi/


  1. (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 […]
  2. (obsolete) A state; a polity. [14th–16th c.]
  3. (obsolete) A set political system; civil administration. [15th–19th c.]
  4. (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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 […]
    • The very policy of a hostess, finding his purse so far above his clothes, did detect him.
  7. (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.
  8. (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.
  9. (obsolete) Motive; object; inducement.
    • What policy have you to bestow a benefit where it is counted an injury?
Translations Translations Verb

policy (policies, present participle policying; past and past participle policied)

  1. (transitive) To regulate by laws; to reduce to order.
    • 1605, Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning
      Policying of cities.''

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
  • (number pool) policy racket

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