Definition of Machiavellian in US English:

Machiavellian

adjective

  • Cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics.

    ‘a whole range of outrageous Machiavellian manoeuvres’
    • ‘Reuther's political success cannot be read solely in terms of Machiavellian politics.’
    • ‘To the outsider, unfamiliar with the Machiavellian world of Olympic politics, Gadir may have seemed a surprising choice as his country's IOC representative.’
    • ‘But however astute or realist Burnham's Machiavellian insight into power politics was, he rarely showed any capacity for canny negotiation himself.’
    • ‘It is the classic of Holocaust-era anti-Semitism, portraying the Jews as a conniving, Machiavellian race, plotting how to gain power well beyond their puny numbers, through manipulation and money.’
    • ‘Most of them, with Machiavellian cunning, were refusing to answer their telephones.’
    • ‘The prologue to the play is spoken by ‘Machevil’, and Barabas is one of the prototypes for unscrupulous Machiavellian villains in later Elizabethan and Jacobean drama.’
    • ‘There are so many poignant lines about Machiavellian politics and acting that I might try out here, that remaining silent would probably be my best course.’
    • ‘But it is impossible to take the conspiracy theory seriously, if only because such Machiavellian treachery requires a degree of competence and organisation which ministers patently lack.’
    • ‘Here, of course, was a classic case of Machiavellian politics: the attempt to bend the will of the party to his view by fair means or foul.’
    • ‘It has been argued that Cavour's acceptance of the free trade and international convertibility regime is patent evidence of his Machiavellian approach to politics.’
    • ‘By 1971, Leider was burnt out from the intense, Machiavellian politics of the New York art world.’
    • ‘Professor Burland has been working on the stabilization committee for the last ten years under all sorts of Machiavellian pressures and politics.’
    • ‘This is not hypocrisy; merely the usual Machiavellian politics in action.’
    • ‘Yes, you can aspire to be as rich as Sugar but to get there you're going to have to take a lot of flak, much of it in front of an audience of millions, while fending off the Machiavellian manoeuvres of others.’
    • ‘At best, bottle blondes are equated with an artifice - think Pamela Anderson, Melinda Messenger - and at worst, deceitfulness and Machiavellian scheming.’
    • ‘Stella is in thrall, not only to her own irresistible infatuation, but also to a loveless marriage, the repressive conventions of the times and the Machiavellian politics of those around her.’
    • ‘‘The council is organized purely to promote economic development and shouldn't involve Machiavellian politics,’ KMT spokesman Wang Chih-kang said.’
    • ‘Wrong is correct in emphasizing how Mobutu, the cunning Machiavellian prince, managed to acquire considerable outside help.’
    • ‘Intimidated, insecure but alive to the bottomless depths of Machiavellian politics that holding down a senior job in RTE entailed, there were few RTE executives prepared to put their heads above the parapet.’
    • ‘In Sir Humphrey's hands, Hacker is merely the ball in a Machiavellian game of political ping-pong.’
    devious, cunning, crafty, artful, wily, sly, scheming, designing, conniving, opportunistic, insidious, treacherous, perfidious, two-faced, janus-faced, tricky, double-dealing, unscrupulous, deceitful, dishonest
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noun

  • A person who schemes in a Machiavellian way.

    • ‘Moreover, the Machiavellian in me cannot help but wryly shake the head in perverse tribute to what the Cubic boys have pulled off.’
    • ‘He is not a cynic or a Machiavellian in any traditionally understood sense.’
    • ‘Instead of performing as a pursed-lipped Machiavellian, she chooses to play an elegantly miffed Hedda, one who contemptuously, but resignedly surveys the people and setting of her life.’
    • ‘Simon Russell Beale's Cassius is not so much the scheming Machiavellian, but a timid, bullied character, more resentful than envious of those who hold office.’
    • ‘Chicago routinely trained me and numerous other students to become ruthless and unprincipled Machiavellians.’
    • ‘It's a perfect tool for the disingenuous Machiavellians who run Washington today.’
    • ‘If you want to be a Machiavellian, do not expect to enjoy a long career.’
    • ‘As anybody who has read ‘The Prince’ knows, the true Machiavellian is one everybody thinks is a saint.’
    • ‘Fortunately for him, there are no Machiavellians around to define it in more sinister terms.’
    • ‘Or am I instead something more vicious - if I'm not a goober, than am I a Machiavellian, an accursed accomplice in horror, waiting to take my role as a future Heidegger?’
    • ‘And why have these Machiavellians become idealists?’
    • ‘Nancy Reagan was reviled as a Hollywood airhead until she was reviled as a secret Machiavellian.’
    • ‘As Sartre admitted in his eulogy, ‘He reaffirmed the existence of moral fact within the heart of our era… against the Machiavellians, against the golden calf of realism.’’
    • ‘A remarkable Machiavellian, Edmund sets out to redress that situation by turning his gullible, sensual father against his brother - with considerable, and terrible, success.’
    • ‘Successful Machiavellians are far more interesting than the ones who botch it up or do it so obviously that they some how lose the Machiavellian nature of it in the process!’
    • ‘When we are told that the gods favour her for her ‘virtue,’ it seems that they are using that term in a Machiavellian rather than Christian sense.’
    • ‘An accomplished Machiavellian, he used his ill-gotten wealth and his powers of patronage to outfox potential opponents and to keep wavering officials in line.’
    • ‘This must have presented quite the dilemma to our little Machiavellians, as they discussed the best way to do away with poor Storm.’
    conspirator, co-conspirator, conspirer, plotter, schemer, colluder, collaborator, conniver
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Origin

Mid 16th century: from the name of Niccolò Machiavelli (see Machiavelli, Niccolò.

Pronunciation