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.


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.


Synonyms For Machiavellian

crafty, sly, cunning, shrewd, artful

Cite Term

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Modern Language Association (MLA):
Machiavellian. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. April 03, 2020
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Machiavellian. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: April 03, 2020).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Machiavellian. Retrieved April 03, 2020, from website:

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.