Machiavellian

Machiavellian is an adjective used to describe conduct that is clever and dishonest, usually within politics. It can also describe a setting where people might use cunning and trickery to obtain a goal, such as a battle or election.

History

Niccolo Machiavelli was an Italian diplomat and writer of political science. His most famous work was published in 1532, The Prince, in which he describes the immoral behavior of powerful men as acceptable or even encouraged. The word Machiavellian grew in popularity a few decades later. Over time the word has lost some of the more moderate themes found in Machiavelli’s work and has a solely pejorative definition.

 

Examples

There is a reason why writers like Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel focus on the fortunes of aristocratic leaders and those Machiavellian power-makers close to them: what is at stake is enormous. [Scotland Herald]

The Swede’s point, and it has been made ad infinitum since the Suárez move, is that these choirboys need a bit more of the Machiavellian spirit. [The Australian]

If last year’s eight nominations for “House of Cards” weren’t enough, this year will likely bring more honors for the Washington-set drama and its Machiavellian characters. [CNN]

Whether intentional or not – and Google claims it was not a complex Machiavellian plot on its behalf –  the end results was that the huge media interest in the story helped Google make its point. [IBI Times]