The definition of a caucus is a private meeting of leaders before a more general, open meeting.
Origin of the Word Caucus
Although the exact origin of the word is still unknown, it is often said that caucus comes from “cau´-cau-as´u”—the Algonquin word for "counsel." The term probably introduced into political usage in the United States through the Democratic Party in New York known as Tammany Hall, an organization which commonly adopted Native American terms to suit their own purposes. However, there are also some people who attribute the term to the Latin word “caucus” that means “drinking vessel.” These people say the phrase was first used to describe political activity by the Caucus Club of Boston.
In the United States, the term caucus is often used in reference to the procedure some states use to select their presidential nominees.
Another, although less common, definition of caucus is as a description of a sub-grouping of elected government officials who plan meetings to affect public policy. These groups often share a common interest, such as a shared ethnicity or political faction.
- An example of a caucus is a meeting of Democratic leaders before the national convention.
- An example of a caucus is are Iowa caucuses which, since 1972, have been the first major electoral event in the long process of nominating Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. Even though Iowa is a small state, the results of the Iowa caucuses are considered to be an important test of a candidate’s strength in the presidential race.
- An example of a caucus is the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
- Caucus is defined as to hold or take part in a private meeting before a more general, open meeting.
An example of caucus is to hold a meeting for Republican leaders to determine strategy before a session of Congress.
- a private meeting of leaders or a committee of a political party or faction to decide on policy, pick candidates, etc., esp. prior to a general, open meeting
- the group attending such a meeting
- a faction or group of politicians: the black Congressional caucus
- a controlling organization within a British political party
Origin of caucusprobably after Caucus Club, 18th-c. social and political club; ultimately ; from Medieval Greek kaukos, drinking cup
nounpl. cau·cus·es or cau·cus·ses
- a. A meeting of the local members of a political party especially to select delegates to a convention or register preferences for candidates running for office.b. A closed meeting of party members within a legislative body to decide on questions of policy or leadership.c. A group within a legislative or decision-making body seeking to represent a specific interest or influence a particular area of policy: a minority caucus.
- Chiefly British A committee within a political party charged with determining policy.
verbcau·cused, cau·cus·ing, cau·cus·es or cau·cussed or cau·cus·sing or cau·cus·ses
Origin of caucusAfter the Caucus Club of Boston (in the 1760s), possibly from Medieval Latin caucus, drinking vessel.
- (US) A meeting, especially a preliminary meeting, of persons belonging to a party, to nominate candidates for public office, or to select delegates to a nominating convention, or to confer regarding measures of party policy; a political primary meeting.
- (US, Canada) A grouping of all the members of a legislature from the same party.
(third-person singular simple present caucuses, present participle caucusing, simple past and past participle caucused)
- (US) To meet and participate in caucus.
Unknown. One possible source is Algonquin cawaassough or caucauasu (“counselor, elder, adviser”). A popular folk etymology attested in Great Leaders and National Issues of 1896 stated: "In the early part of the eighteenth century a number of caulkers connected with the shipping business in the North End of Boston held a meeting for consultation. That meeting was the germ of the political caucuses which have formed so prominent a feature of our government ever since its organization." American Heritage Dictionary states the term is taken from the Caucus Club of Boston in the 1760s, possibly derived from Medieval Latin caucus, drinking vessel.
caucus - Legal Definition