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caucus

[kaw-kuh s] /ˈkɔ kəs/
noun, plural caucuses.
1.
U.S. Politics.
  1. a meeting of party leaders to select candidates, elect convention delegates, etc.
  2. a meeting of party members within a legislative body to select leaders and determine strategy.
  3. (often initial capital letter) a faction within a legislative body that pursues its interests through the legislative process:
    the Women's Caucus; the Black Caucus.
2.
any group or meeting organized to further a special interest or cause.
verb (used without object)
3.
to hold or meet in a caucus.
verb (used with object)
4.
to bring up or hold for discussion in a caucus:
The subject was caucused. The group caucused the meeting.
Origin
Virginia Algonquian
1755-1765
1755-65, Americanism; apparently first used in the name of the Caucus Club of colonial Boston; perhaps < Medieval Latin caucus drinking vessel, Late Latin caucum < Greek kaûkos; alleged Virginia Algonquian orig. less probable
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for caucus
  • It will welcome you, and so will the caucus of lucid malcontents.
  • But the straw poll isn't often an indicator of who will go on to win the caucus.
  • Most aren't known outside their own districts and tend to vote with their party caucus.
  • As little as a week before the caucus the polls were still showing him in fourth or fifth place.
  • Here are the final pitches they'll get from caucus captains.
  • A caucus is a meeting of supporters or members of a political party or movement.
British Dictionary definitions for caucus

caucus

/ˈkɔːkəs/
noun (pl) -cuses
1.
(mainly US & Canadian)
  1. a closed meeting of the members of one party in a legislative chamber, etc, to coordinate policy, choose candidates, etc
  2. such a bloc of politicians: the Democratic caucus in Congress
2.
(mainly US)
  1. a group of leading politicians of one party
  2. a meeting of such a group
3.
(mainly US) a local meeting of party members
4.
(Brit) a group or faction within a larger group, esp a political party, who discuss tactics, choose candidates, etc
5.
(Austral) a group of MPs from one party who meet to discuss tactics, etc
6.
(NZ) a formal meeting of all Members of Parliament belonging to one political party
verb
7.
(intransitive) to hold a caucus
Word Origin
C18: probably of Algonquian origin; related to caucauasu adviser
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for caucus
n.

"private meeting of party leaders," 1763, American English (New England), perhaps from an Algonquian word caucauasu "counselor, elder, adviser" in the dialect of Virginia, or from the Caucus Club of Boston, a 1760s social & political club whose name possibly derived from Modern Greek kaukos "drinking cup." Another old guess is caulker's (meeting) [Pickering, 1816], but OED finds this dismissable.

caucus: "This noun is used throughout the United States, as a cant term for those meetings, which are held by the different political parties, for the purpose of agreeing upon candidates for office, or concerting any measure, which they intend to carry at the subsequent public, or town meetings." [John Pickering, "A Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases Which Have Been Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States of America," Boston, 1816]



The word caucus, and its derivative caucusing, are often used in Boston. The last answers much to what we stile parliamenteering or electioneering. All my repeated applications to different gentlemen have not furnished me with a satisfactory account of the origin of caucus. It seems to mean, a number of persons, whether more or less, met together to consult upon adopting and prosecuting some scheme of policy, for carrying a favorite point. [William Gordon, "History, Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United States of America," London, 1788]

v.

1850, from caucus (n.), but caucusing is attested from 1788.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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caucus in Culture
caucus [(kaw-kuhs)]

A meeting of members of a political party to nominate candidates, choose convention delegates, plan campaign tactics, determine party policy, or select leaders for a legislature.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for caucus

any political group or meeting organized to further a special interest or cause

Learn more about caucus with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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