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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"ancient Greek city-state," 1894, from Greek polis "city, one's city; the state, citizens," from PIE *pele- "citadel; enclosed space, often on high ground" (cognates: Sanskrit pur, puram "city, citadel," Lithuanian pilis "fortress").


Etymology 1 n. A city, or a city-state. Etymology 2

alt. 1 (context uncountable Geordie English) The police. 2 (context countable Geordie English) A policeman or policewoman. n. 1 (context uncountable Geordie English) The police. 2 (context countable Geordie English) A policeman or policewoman.


Polis (; ), plural poleis (, ) literally means city in Greek. It can also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography, polis is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, and thus is often translated as " city-state".

The Ancient Greek city-state developed during the Archaic period as the ancestor of city, state, and citizenship and persisted (though with decreasing influence) well into Roman times, when the equivalent Latin word was civitas, also meaning "citizenhood", while municipium applied to a non-sovereign local entity. The term "city-state", which originated in English (alongside the German Stadtstaat), does not fully translate the Greek term. The poleis were not like other primordial ancient city-states like Tyre or Sidon, which were ruled by a king or a small oligarchy, but rather political entities ruled by their bodies of citizens. The traditional view of archaeologists—that the appearance of urbanization at excavation sites could be read as a sufficient index for the development of a polis—was criticised by François Polignac in 1984 and has not been taken for granted in recent decades: the polis of Sparta, for example, was established in a network of villages. The term polis, which in archaic Greece meant "city", changed with the development of the governance center in the city to signify "state" (which included its surrounding villages). Finally, with the emergence of a notion of citizenship among landowners, it came to describe the entire body of citizens. The ancient Greeks did not always refer to Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and other poleis as such; they often spoke instead of the Athenians, Lacedaemonians, Thebans and so on. The body of citizens came to be the most important meaning of the term polis in ancient Greece.

The Greek term that specifically meant the totality of urban buildings and spaces is .

Polis (disambiguation)

Polis, the Greek word for 'city', may refer to:

  • Polis, an ancient Greek city-state
  • Constantinople, known as Η Πόλις The City
  • Polis, Cyprus, a town in Paphos District, Cyprus
  • Polis or Stimboli, Crete, the medieval and Ottoman name of ancient Lappa or Lampa, modern Argyroupoli (Rethymno)
  • Polis, Albania, a village in central Albania
  • Polisen, the Swedish name of the Swedish police
  • Polis, the Turkish name of the Turkish National Police
  • Jared Polis, Colorado politician and entrepreneur
  • POLIS (LSE Journalism Think Tank), Journalism think tank at the Media and Communications Department of the London School of Economics (2006-)
  • Polis Institute – The Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities
  • The Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Cambridge.

From other roots:

  • Polis (star), a traditional name for the star Mu Sagittarii
  • In a variety of languages, polis means, or is a slang term for, police
POLIS (LSE Journalism Think Tank)

Polis is the journalism think tank at the Media and Communications Department of the London School of Economics and Political Science. It was founded in 2006 by Charlie Beckett, a journalist with 20 years experience at the BBC and ITN’s Channel 4 News. He is the author of SuperMedia: Saving Journalism So It Can Save The World (Blackwell, 2008).

Polis (album)

Polis is the second studio album released by French Electronic artist Uppermost. It was made available for free digital download on his blog 19 December 2011.

Polis (film)

Polis is a 2014 American science fiction short film directed by Steven Ilous. It was written by Steven Ilous and Daniel Perea. It won the New Regency and Defy Media PROTOTYPE competition in January 2015, the prize for which was a feature development deal at New Regency.

Usage examples of "polis".

Doppler-shifted stars around the polis, following the frozen, concentric waves of color across the sky from expansion to convergence.

Its main purpose was to enable the citizens of the polis to create offspring: a child of one parent, or two, or twenty formed partly in their own image, partly according to their wishes, and partly by chance.

The first mind seeds had been translated from DNA nine centuries before, when the polis founders had invented the Shaper programming language to re-create the essential processes of neuroembryology in software.

But the input navigator had long since grown accustomed to confining itself to the polis library, a habit which had been powerfully rewarded.

Dancing a weird chaotic lockstep, the two navigators began hopping from scape to scape, polis to polis, planet to planet.

It sent a copy of the public signature out into the polis, to be catalogued, to he counted.

The citizen was free to reprogram it at will, but the polis would permit no other software to touch it.

They still had one more day before their old Konishi-selves awoke in their place-but with each passing minute, now, the sense of polis life moving on and leaving them behind grew stronger.

Flesher gestalt, limited by anatomy, was much more subdued than the polis versions, but ve thought ve could detect a growing number of faces expressing consternation.

The design was perfectly functional, but since each space-going clone of Carter-Zimmerman polis was barely larger than one of these Star Puppies, having the real things as passengers was out of the question.

When Carter-Zimmerman polis was cloned a thousand times and the clones launched toward a thousand destinations, the vast majority of citizens taking part in the Diaspora had sensibly decided to keep all their snapshots frozen until they arrived, side-stepping both tedium and risk.

The polis was too small to be equipped with serious astronomical facilities, and in any case the Star Puppies stuck slavishly to their limited, mock-biological vision.

He wanted every other polis to see the error of its ways, and follow C-Z to the stars.

There are self-modified citizens in this polis more alien than the aliens in Ashton-Laval.

There are ninety-seven languages in current use in C-Z-half of them invented since the polis was founded.