views updated May 18 2018

po·lit·i·cal / pəˈlitikəl/ • adj. of or relating to the government or the public affairs of a country: a period of political and economic stability. ∎  of or relating to the ideas or strategies of a particular party or group in politics: a decision taken for purely political reasons. ∎  interested in or active in politics: I'm not very political. ∎  motivated or caused by a person's beliefs or actions concerning politics: a political crime. ∎ chiefly derog. relating to, affecting, or acting according to the interests of status or authority within an organization rather than matters of principle.DERIVATIVES: po·lit·i·cal·ly / -ik(ə)lē/ adv.


views updated May 23 2018

political political animal a person viewed as living and acting with others; a follower of or participant in politics. The phrase comes originally from the translation of Greek politikon zōon, in the Politics of Aristotle, where the meaning was literally ‘an animal intended to live in a city [polis]’.
political correctness the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

Politically correct meaning ‘appropriate to the prevailing political or social circumstances’ has been recorded from the late 18th century, but did not become a fixed phrase until the early 1970s, when it received a dramatic impetus in the feminist literature of the time, and the campaign against a perceived gender bias. However, by the late 1980s the view also developed that this in itself could represent a puritanical approach which was a potential enemy to freedom of thought and expression.

By the early 1990s, use of the term political correctness was nearly always pejorative, while the labels politically incorrect and political incorrectness often suggested the notion that the idea or statement described was bravely formulated. The abbreviation PC is nearly always pejorative or ironic.