Dictionary Definitions of “Democracy”

Below are several dictionary and encyclopedia definitions of “democracy.” A link to each definition is included in the references.

Merriam Webster
“A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.” ​1​

“Government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.” ​2​

Cambridge Dictionary
“The belief in freedom and equality between people, or a system of government based on this belief, in which power is either held by elected representatives or directly by the people themselves.” ​3​

Collins Dictionary
“A system of government in which people choose their rulers by voting for them in elections.” ​4​

“A form of government in which the people have the authority to choose their governing legislation.” ​5​

Encyclopedia Britannica
“Democracy, literally, rule by the people. The term is derived from the Greek dēmokratiā, which was coined from dēmos (“people”) and kratos (“rule”) in the middle of the 5th century BCE to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens.” ​6​

“The term ‘democracy’ (literally ‘rule of the people’), which originated in Greek political theory, is used in two ways today. First, in the strict political sense, it denotes the form of government of all states in which (purportedly or genuinely) ‘the people’ rules, that is, not a minority of people or a monarch.” ​7​


  1. 1.
    Merriam Webster . Definition of Democracy. Merriam Webster. Accessed May 8, 2020. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/democracy
  2. 2.
    Dictionary.com . Democracy. Dictionary.com. Accessed May 8, 2020. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/democracy
  3. 3.
    Cambridge Dictionary . Democracy. Cambridge Dictionary. Accessed May 8, 2020. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/democracy
  4. 4.
    Collins Dictionary . Democracy. Collins Dictionary. Accessed May 8, 2020. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/democracy
  5. 5.
    Wikipedia . Democracy. Wikipedia. Accessed May 8, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy
  6. 6.
    Dahl Robert A. Democracy. Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed May 8, 2020. https://www.britannica.com/topic/democracy
  7. 7.
    Weber W EJ. Democracy. Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online. Published 2015. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-early-modern-history-online/democracy-COM_031005



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