Definition of realpolitik in English:



  • A system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations.

    • ‘The promotion of democracy and human rights serves American interests in ways that realpolitik can never accomplish alone.’
    • ‘In this world, power politics and classical realpolitik have become obsolete.’
    • ‘As they see it, we improperly allow realpolitik considerations to trump the human rights imperatives.’
    • ‘We can hardly take pride in a successful war against Germany motivated less by principle than realpolitik.’
    • ‘Cooper's mistake was to pose these policies in the old-fashioned language of realpolitik and power, rather than relying on the moral rhetoric of the day.’
    • ‘They are terrified of Leninist politics, which is nothing more for them than realpolitik practised by Marxist intellectuals.’
    • ‘Vedrine makes clear he is a subtle practitioner of realpolitik in the tradition of Richelieu, Talleyrand, and de Gaulle.’
    • ‘Surely realpolitik dictates that this Government must use its final Budget to please the voting classes.’
    • ‘The problem, of course, is with hypocrisy - realpolitik and dressing it up in moral language.’
    • ‘Power politics and realpolitik emphasized by realists is seen as being derived from shared knowledge which is self-fulfilling.’
    • ‘At the turn of the decade many progressives were ready to believe in a new ethical, rather than realpolitik, motivation in foreign policy.’
    • ‘But the vision called up by realpolitik, or realistic politics, is beyond example crazy and incredible.’
    • ‘For all its underpinnings in realpolitik, the strategy committed the United States to multilateralism.’
    • ‘That's a perfectly reasonable, realpolitik consideration for a government.’
    • ‘After all, those in power on the American side of the Atlantic are also practitioners of realpolitik.’
    • ‘Thank you for your reply to my letter, which confirms your reliance on legalism-moralism rather than realpolitik to determine international policy.’
    • ‘Are we to jump to the conclusion, therefore, that they have abandoned the left in the name of pragmatism and realpolitik?’
    • ‘From the beginning, U.S. policy in South Vietnam was a conflict between realpolitik and democratic ideals.’
    • ‘National realpolitik is becoming unreal, not only in Europe, but throughout the world.’
    • ‘The first, we would say, is based on realpolitik, the second on principle.’
    power struggle, manipulation, manoeuvring, jockeying for position, wheeler-dealing, machiavellianism, opportunism, realpolitik
    View synonyms


Early 20th century: from German Realpolitik practical politics.