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[rey-ahl-poh-li-teek, ree-] /reɪˈɑlˌpoʊ lɪˌtik, ri-/
political realism or practical politics, especially policy based on power rather than on ideals.
Also, Realpolitik.
Origin of realpolitik
1910-15; < German, equivalent to real real1 + Politik politics, policy; see politic
Related forms
[rey-ahl-poh-lee-ti-ker, ree-] /reɪˈɑl poʊˌli tɪ kər, ri-/ (Show IPA),
noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for realpolitik
  • We're back to realpolitik--which requires the mind and not the heart.
  • Because of basic logic, because of human nature, because of harsh realpolitik realities.
  • In fact, the two countries have been edging closer for years-for reasons of pure realpolitik.
  • But their influence has been constrained by questions of realpolitik and economic sense.
  • The therapists were the radicals, the staff the exponents of realpolitik.
  • That's a perfectly reasonable, realpolitik consideration for a government.
  • It has to do with the realpolitik need to balance all the competing interests and strike workable compromises.
  • And here, you learn that it is not some cold game of realpolitik, with winners and losers.
  • Some intellectuals at the time sneered that human rights had no place in a realpolitik approach to the world.
  • And that kind of realpolitik engagement is a necessary part of what it means to be the indispensable nation of the world today.
British Dictionary definitions for realpolitik


a ruthlessly realistic and opportunist approach to statesmanship, rather than a moralistic one, esp as exemplified by Bismarck
Word Origin
C19: German: politics of realism
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 realpolitik

1914, from German Realpolitik, which can be translated as "practical politics." See real (adj.) + politics.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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realpolitik in Culture
realpolitik [(ray-ahl-poh-li-teek)]

Governmental policies based on hard, practical considerations rather than on moral or idealistic concerns. Realpolitik is German for “the politics of reality” and is often applied to the policies of nations that consider only their own interests in dealing with other countries.

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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