Define: Machiavellian

UK Accounting Glossary

Definition: Machiavellian


Quick Summary of Machiavellian


of, or relating to Machiavelli or the principles of conduct he recommended. cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics.



What is the dictionary definition of Machiavellian?

Dictionary Definition


Definition of Machiavellian: The use of immoral and unethical practices to gain a financial advantage over other investors.

It is characterised by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency, or dishonesty.


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Full Definition of Machiavellian


Manner or philosophy based on (or one who adopts) the sceptical positions of Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) whose name (in popular perception) is synonymous with deceit and deception in management and statesmanship.

Born in Florence (Italy), Machiavelli was its second chancellor and (in 1513) penned the book ‘The Prince’ that considers ways in which the rulers of a nation-state can realise and command power. Although The Prince carries some clever and pragmatic insights into human behaviour, it also displays a pessimistic view of the human constitution and excuses opportunistic and unethical ways of manipulating people.


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Synonyms For Machiavellian


crafty, sly, cunning, shrewd, artful


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Definition Sources


Definitions for Machiavellian are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 27th October 2019.