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Unknown. One possible source is Algonquin cawaassough or caucauasu (counselor, elder, adviser).[1] A popular folk etymology attested in Great Leaders and National Issues of 1896 stated: "In the early part of the eighteenth century a number of caulkers connected with the shipping business in the North End of Boston held a meeting for consultation. That meeting was the germ of the political caucuses which have formed so prominent a feature of our government ever since its organization."[2] American Heritage Dictionary states the term is taken from the Caucus Club of Boston in the 1760s, possibly from Medieval Latin caucus (drinking vessel).[3]



caucus (plural caucuses or caucusses) (US, Canada, Israel, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, archaic in UK, not used in the European Union)

  1. A usually preliminary meeting of party members to nominate candidates for public office or delegates to be sent a nominating convention, or to confer regarding policy.
    • 1788, William Gordon, The History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment, of the Independence of the United States of America:
      He conferred with Mr. Warren of Plymouth upon the necessity of giving into spirited measures, and then said, "Do you keep the committee in play, and I will go and make a caucus against the evening; and do you meet me."
  2. A grouping of all the members of a legislature from the same party.
    Synonym: parliamentary group
  3. A political interest group by members of a legislative body.

Derived terms[edit]



caucus (third-person singular simple present caucuses or caucusses, present participle caucusing or caucussing, simple past and past participle caucused or caucussed)

  1. (intransitive or transitive with with) To meet and participate in a caucus.
    • 2006, Associated Press, (reprinted in the Boston Globe) [1], November 13,
      "Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut said yesterday that he will caucus with Senate Democrats in the new Congress, but he would not rule out switching to the Republican caucus if he starts to feel uncomfortable among Democrats."
    • 2019 March 26, Rebecca Shabad; Dartunorro Clark, “Senate fails to advance Green New Deal as Democrats protest McConnell 'sham vote'”, in NBC news[2]:
      Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona voted with Republicans against the measure, as did Sen. Angus King of Maine, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats.
  2. (transitive) To bring into or treat in a caucus.
    • 2017 May 6, Chitagu, Tatenda, “Zanu PF to stage one-man chairmanship polls”, in NewsDay Zimbabwe[3]:
      Although journalists from the private media were barred from entering the hall, different districts caucused the meeting, discussing the voting centres and other logistics.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Wilson, James (1999). The Earth Shall Weep. New York City, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press. pp. 104–105. →ISBN.
  2. ^ Edward Sylvester Ellis, et al., eds. Great Leaders and National Issues of 1896: containing the lives of the Republican and Democratic candidates for president and vice-president, biographical sketches of the leading men of all parties ... famous campaigns of the past, history of political parties, lives of our former presidents ..., Chapter I.
  3. ^ "caucus". American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. 2000.


Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from Ancient Greek καῦκος (kaûkos, cup).[1][2] Ultimately, borrowed from Proto-Celtic *kaɸukos (cup), from Proto-Indo-European *kap- (to seize, hold).


caucus m (genitive caucī); second declension[3][4][5][1]

  1. (Late Latin) goblet, cup


Second-declension noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative caucus caucī
Genitive caucī caucōrum
Dative caucō caucīs
Accusative caucum caucōs
Ablative caucō caucīs
Vocative cauce caucī


  • Old English: ċēac[5] (see there for further descendants)
  • English: caucus (possibly)
  • Romanian: cauc


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Niermeyer, Jan Frederik (1976), “caucus”, in Mediae Latinitatis Lexicon Minus, Leiden, Boston: Brill, page 159
  2. ^ Schrijver, Peter C. H. (1991) The reflexes of the Proto-Indo-European laryngeals in Latin (Leiden studies in Indo-European; 2), Amsterdam, Atlanta: Rodopi, page 264
  3. ^ caucus”, in Charlton T[homas] Lewis; Charles [Lancaster] Short (1879) [] A New Latin Dictionary [], New York, N.Y.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Chicago, Ill.: American Book Company; Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  4. ^ caucus in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition with additions by D. P. Carpenterius, Adelungius and others, edited by Léopold Favre, 1883–1887)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ernout, Alfred; Meillet, Antoine (2001), “caucus”, in Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue latine: histoire des mots (in French), with additions and corrections of J. André, 4th edition, Paris: Klincksieck