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(1)   A plan of action adopted by an individual or social group
"It was a policy of retribution"
"A politician keeps changing his policies"
(2)   Written contract or certificate of insurance
"You should have read the small print on your policy"
(3)   A line of argument rationalizing the course of action of a government
"They debated the policy or impolicy of the proposed legislation"

Etymology 1

From policie < politia "the state" < (politeia) "polis, (city) state, government"


  1. A plan or course of action, especially one of an organization or government
    • The Communist Party has a policy of returning power to the workers
  2. A course of action thought to be prudent or tactically advantageous; hence prudence or sagacity
    • Honesty is the best policy
    • Some policy players frequented policy shops
  3. A statement of commitment to a broad requirement, often used in an organisation to instruct personnel as to a required outcome (note: whereas "Procedures" describe how a policy is implemented).
  4. Shrewdness or artfulness
    • 1813, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Modern Library Edition (1995), page 140
      These bitter accusations might have been suppressed, had I with greater policy concealed my struggles, and flattered you...

Etymology 2

From police < polizza < apodissa "receipt for money" < (apodeixis) "proof, declaration"


  1. A contract of insurance
    • Your insurance policy covers fire and theft only.
  2. An illegal daily lottery in late nineteenth and early twentieth century USA on numbers drawn from a lottery wheel (no plural)
  3. A number pool lottery