"government by the people, system of government in which the sovereign power is vested in the people as a whole exercising power directly or by elected officials; a state so governed," 1570s, from French démocratie (14c.), from Medieval Latin democratia (13c.), from Greek dēmokratia "popular government," from dēmos "common people," originally "district" (see demotic), + kratos "rule, strength" (see -cracy).
Sometimes 16c.-17c. in Latinized form democratie. In 19c. England it could refer to "the class of people which has no hereditary or other rank, the common people." In 19c. U.S. politics it could mean "principles or members of the Democratic Party."
Democracy implies that the man must take the responsibility for choosing his rulers and representatives, and for the maintenance of his own 'rights' against the possible and probable encroachments of the government which he has sanctioned to act for him in public matters. [Ezra Pound, "ABC of Economics," 1933]
1580s, "serving to portray or symbolize," from French representatif (early 14c.) or directly from Medieval Latin repraesentativus, from stem of Latin repraesentare "show, exhibit, display" (see represent).
Meaning "standing for others, acting as a substitute or agent for another" is from 1620s. Specifically in the political sense of "holding the place of, and acting for, a larger body of people in the government or legislature" it is recorded from 1620s; the meaning "pertaining to or founded on representation of the people, having citizens represented by chosen persons" is from 1640s. Related: Representatively (mid-15c.).
1630s, "member of a legislative body (such as the British House of Commons or the U.S. House of Representatives) who represents a number of others," from representative (adj.). By 1640s in the sense of "example, type, sample, specimen."
"sharing, having a share or part in common with others," 1833, from participate + -ory. Participatory democracy is attested by 1965, a term from student protests and mass demonstrations, contrasted with representative democracy. The formulation of the idea, if not the phrase, seems to trace to U.S. progressive political writer Walter Lippmann (1889-1974).
c. 1600, "of the nature of or characterized by democracy; pertaining to democracy," from French démocratique, from Medieval Latin democraticus, from Greek demokratikos "of or for democracy; favoring democracy," from demokratia "popular government" (see democracy). Earlier was democratian (1570s), democratical (1580s). Related: Democratically.
As a political faction name, from 1790 in reference to France. U.S. political usage (with a capital D) attested from c. 1800. The party originally was the Anti-Federal party, then the Democratic-Republican (Democratic for short). It formed among those opposed to extensive powers for the U.S. federal government. The name of the party was not formally shortened to Democratic until 1829. Democratic socialism is attested from 1849.
1790, "adherent or advocate of democracy," with reference to France, from French démocrate (18c., opposed to aristocrate), back-formation from démocratie (see democracy); formally revived in U.S. as a political party affiliation 1798, with a capital D. As a shortening of this, Demo (1793) is older than Dem (c. 1840). An earlier noun for "adherent of democracy" was democratian (1650s).
c. 1600, "a civil magistrate, especially in Geneva," from French syndic "chief representative" (14c.), from Late Latin syndicus "representative of a group or town," from Greek syndikos "public advocate," as an adjective, "belonging jointly to," from syn- "together" (see syn-) + dike "judgment, justice, usage, custom" (see Eurydice). Meaning "accredited representative of a university or other corporation" first found c. 1600. Related: Syndical.
"government by the wealthy class; a class ruling by virtue of wealth," 1650s, from Greek ploutokratia "rule or power of the wealthy or of wealth," from ploutos "wealth" (see Pluto) + -kratia "rule" (see -cracy). Synonym plutarchy is slightly older (1640s). Pluto-democracy "plutocracy masquerading as democracy" is from 1895.
1705 as abbreviation of reputation (n.); upon rep "I swear it" was a common 18c. slang asseveration. As a shortening of repetition (n.) it is recorded from 1864, originally school slang; as a shortening of representative (n.), especially (but not originally) "sales representative," it is attested from 1896. As an abbreviation of repertory (company) it is recorded from 1925.