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Definition of 'machiavellian'

Cunning, deceptive, and willing to use unethical means to achieve one's goals.
"The Machiavellian leader's tactics were characterized by deceit and manipulation."

Detailed Meaning of 'machiavellian'

The term is derived from the name of the 16th-century Italian political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, who wrote "The Prince," a treatise on politics and power. In this work, Machiavelli famously advocated for the use of deceit and manipulation to maintain power, a view that has been widely criticized for its lack of morality. The adjective "Machiavellian" has come to be associated with a cunning and shrewd approach to politics and power, and is often used to describe individuals who prioritize their own interests above all else and are willing to use any means necessary to achieve their objectives. It is generally considered a negative characterization, implying a lack of ethics and a willingness to engage in underhanded tactics.


Examples of 'machiavellian' in a Sentence

1. He devised a Machiavellian plan to gain control and manipulate those around him.
2. She was known for her Machiavellian tactics, using cunning and deceit to achieve her goals.
3. The Machiavellian politician would stop at nothing to maintain their power.
4. They were skilled in the art of Machiavellian maneuvering, always one step ahead.
5. His Machiavellian nature made him a formidable opponent in the business world.
6. The Machiavellian leader used fear and intimidation to keep their subordinates in line.

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Origins & Etymology of 'machiavellian'

The adjective 'Machiavellian' derives its etymology from the Italian political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, particularly his work 'The Prince,' which was written in the early 16th century. Machiavelli's writings, although not exclusively endorsing deceit or unethical behavior, explored the pragmatic and often ruthless methods employed by political leaders to maintain power and achieve their goals. His name became associated with cunning and manipulative political strategies. Thus, 'Machiavellian' etymologically signifies actions or behaviors characterized by cunning, deception, and a willingness to use unethical means to achieve one's objectives, particularly in the realm of politics and power. This term has come to represent a shrewd and calculating approach that prioritizes the end result over ethical considerations, reflecting the influence of Machiavelli's ideas on political philosophy and strategy.

How to pronounce machiavellian (audio)


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