1. Common weal.

2. A state in which the sovereign power resides in the whole body of the people, and is exercised by representatives elected by them; a commonwealth. Cf. Democracy.

In some ancient states called republics the sovereign power was exercised by an hereditary aristocracy or a privileged few, constituting a government now distinctively called an aristocracy. In some there was a division of authority between an aristocracy and the whole body of the people except slaves. No existing republic recognizes an exclusive privilege of any class to govern, or tolerates the institution of slavery. Republic of letters, The collective body of literary or learned men.

Origin: F. Republique, L. Respublica commonwealth; res a thing, an affair + publicus, publica, public. See Real, and Public.

(01 Mar 1998)

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