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See also: machiavellian


Alternative forms[edit]


From the name of the Italian statesman and writer Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527), whose work The Prince (1532) advises that acquiring and exercising power may require unethical methods.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌmæk.i.əˈvɛl.i.ən/, /ˌmæk.jəˈvɛl.i.ən/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌmɑk.i.əˈvɛl.i.ən/, /ˌmæk.jəˈvɛl.i.ən/
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Machiavellian (comparative more Machiavellian, superlative most Machiavellian)

  1. Attempting to achieve goals by cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous methods, especially in politics or in advancing one's career.
    Iago is the Machiavellian antagonist in William Shakespeare's play, Othello.
    • 1999 January, Larry Cunningham, “Taking on Testilying”, in Criminal Justice Ethics, volume 18, →DOI, pages 26–40:
      The most common reason cited is a Machiavellian one: Police view perjury as a necessary means to achieve the ends of justice.
  2. Related to the philosophical system of Niccolò Machiavelli.
    • 2006, Mark Vernon, “Plato or Machiavelli”, in Philosophy and Life:
      It is Machiavellian, in the sense that it revolves around the question of how to maintain power.


Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


Machiavellian (plural Machiavellians)

  1. A ruthless schemer.