Legal Dictionary


Definition of policy


Etymology 1

    From Old French policie < Latin politia "the state" < Ancient Greek πολιτεία (politeia) "polis, (city) state, government"


policy (plural policies)

  1. A plan or course of action, especially one of an organization or government

    The Communist Party has a policy of returning power to the workers

  2. A course of action thought to be prudent or tactically advantageous; hence prudence or sagacity

    Honesty is the best policy
    Some policy players frequented policy shops

  3. A statement of commitment to a broad requirement, often used in an organisation to instruct personnel as to a required outcome (note: whereas "Procedures" describe how a policy is implemented).
  4. Shrewdness or artfulness

    * 1813, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Modern Library Edition (1995), page 140
    These bitter accusations might have been suppressed, had I with greater policy concealed my struggles, and flattered you...

Derived terms

  • policymaker
  • policy shift
  • endowment policy
  • fiscal policy
  • monetary policy
  • policy mix
  • to implement a policy

Etymology 2

    From Middle French police < Italian polizza < Mediaeval Latin apodissa "receipt for money" < Ancient Greek ἀπόδειξις (apodeixis) "proof, declaration"


policy (plural policies)

  1. A contract of insurance

    Your insurance policy covers fire and theft only.

  2. (obsolete) An illegal daily lottery in late nineteenth and early twentieth century USA on numbers drawn from a lottery wheel (no plural)
  3. A number pool lottery


  • (number pool) policy racket

Derived terms

  • policyholder

Further reading

A policy is typically described as a deliberate plan of action to guide decisions and achieve rational outcome(s). However, the term may also be used to denote what is actually done, even though it is unplanned.

The term may apply to government, private sector organizations and groups, and individuals. Presidential executive orders, corporate privacy policies, and parliamentary rules of order are all examples of policy. Policy differs from rules or law. While law can compel or prohibit behaviors (e.g. a law requiring the payment of taxes on income), policy merely guides actions toward those that are most likely to achieve a desired outcome.

Policy or policy study may also refer to the process of making important organizational decisions, including the identification of different alternatives such as programs or spending priorities, and choosing among them on the basis of the impact they will have. Policies can be understood as political, management, financial, and administrative mechanisms arranged to reach explicit goals.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     lex causae
2.     lex situs
3.     landed property
4.     lex fori
5.     lex loci celebrationis
6.     AORO
7.     lex loci delicti commissi
8.     prejudice
9.     adjudication order
10.     Miranda warning