The other day, while I was talking to my Dad, he managed to cram the word ‘Machiavellian’ into our casual conversation. How this happened, I will never know, but when he realized that I had no clue what the word meant, I was forced to look it up!
In the Oxford English Dictionary, since the year 1626, the word Machiavellian has existed and it means “the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct” (it is also used to describe one of the dark triad personalities in psychology). However, it was used before this, during the 16th Century (so technically this word used to be slang). This long, six syllable word, which I find impossible to spell correctly, is a direct result of the actions of the diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli who lived during the Italian Renaissance. He is known for saying “the end justifies the means” meaning that the end result will make up for whatever you had to do to get there. He is basically saying be ruthless and you will get what you want: not something which most nice people would advise. During the 16th Century, Machiavellianism was actually seen as a ‘plague’ which was sweeping across Northern European politics and allegedly causing events like the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572 to occur.
All things considered, I don’t think looking up that word was actually that bad because now I have written a lovely blog entry for all you wonderful people to enjoy. But don’t tell my Dad that.