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[poh-lis] /ˈpoʊ lɪs/
noun, plural poleis
[poh-lahys] /ˈpoʊ laɪs/ (Show IPA)
an ancient Greek city-state.
Origin of polis
1890-95; < Greek pólis, plural (Ionic) póleis


a combining form, meaning “city,” appearing in loanwords from Greek (metropolis), and used in the formation of placenames (Annapolis).
combining form representing Greek pólis polis Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for polis
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The polis hae been searchin' noo for a fortnight an' nae trace o' her can be got.

    The Underworld James C. Welsh
  • I allow them this house to meet in, bekaise it's large and far from the polis.

    The Tithe-Proctor William Carleton
  • polis asked at first two dollars a day but agreed to go for a dollar and a half, and fifty cents a week for his canoe.

    Canoeing in the wilderness Henry David Thoreau
  • If only he were Greek, what a fighter for the polis he would be.

  • He put wan man on th' polis pension fund with a bullet through his thigh.

  • The polis was the hub of the world, the fulfillment of all desires.

  • polis asked at first two dollars a day, but agreed to go for a dollar and a half, and fifty cents a week for his canoe.

    The Maine Woods Henry David Thoreau
  • Her own city, the polis, was everything now that this place had been centuries ago.

British Dictionary definitions for polis


noun (pl) poleis (ˈpɒlaɪs)
an ancient Greek city-state
Word Origin
from Greek: city


(Scot & Irish) the police or a police officer
Word Origin
C19: a variant pronunciation of police
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 polis

"ancient Greek city-state," 1894, from Greek polis "city, one's city; the state, citizens," from PIE *pele- "citadel, enclosed space, often on high ground" (cf. Sanskrit pur, puram "city, citadel," Lithuanian pilis "fortress").


word-forming element meaning "City," from Greek polis "city" (see polis).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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