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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): /ˌmɒk.i.əˈvɛl.i.ən/, /ˌmæk.jəˈvɛl.i.ən/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌmɑk.i.əˈvɛl.i.ən/, /ˌmæk.jəˈvɛl.i.ən/
  • (file)


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.
  2. Related to the philosophical system of Niccolò Machiavelli.
    • 2006, Mark Vernon, Philosophy and Life, "Plato or Machiavelli",
      It is Machiavellian, in the sense that it revolves around the question of how to maintain power.

Derived terms[edit]


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Machiavellian ‎(plural Machiavellians)

  1. A ruthless schemer.