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spoils system

noun
1.
the system or practice in which public offices with their emoluments and advantages are at the disposal of the victorious party for its own purposes.
Origin
1830-1840
1830-40, Americanism
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for spoils system
  • The style of government was a spoils system, underpinned by terror of a vicious network of spies and secret police.
  • The latter, in particular, fears disruption to business as usual and the spoils system.
  • Although by no means a complete reversal of the spoils system, it took a large step in that direction.
  • We can no longer afford tolerating remnants of the spoils system as the necessary cost of our form of government.
  • He rejected the political spoils system and hired only on merit.
  • Yet these limited innovations aside, government was still run through a spoils system.
  • Both the candidates are devout believers in the spoils system.
British Dictionary definitions for spoils system

spoils system

noun
1.
(mainly US) the practice of filling appointive public offices with friends and supporters of the ruling political party Compare merit system
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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spoils system in Culture

spoils system definition


The practice of appointing applicants to public offices as a reward for their loyalty to the political party in power. The term comes from a statement by a senator in the 1830s: “To the victor belong the spoils.” Reform of the system commenced in the 1880s with the introduction of merit as the basis of appointment to office. (See James A. Garfield, machine politics, and patronage.)

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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