A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 20, 2010
“The word ‘politics’ is derived from ‘poly’ meaning ‘many’ and ‘ticks’ meaning ‘parasites‘“

“The word ‘politics’ is derived from the word ‘poly’ meaning ‘many’, and the word ‘ticks’ meaning ‘blood sucking parasites’” is a humorous etymology of the word “politics’ (sometimes spelled “poly-ticks” to make this definition clearer). Larry Hardiman is often given credit for its coinage, but he wrote in the online newsgroup rec.humor.funny on October 11, 1992: “The following was told to me by a colleague at work.”

The “politics” etymology joke has been cited in print since at least 1988 and is of unknown authorship. There are many citations in 1992, with a June 4th citation pre-dating Larry Hardiman’s post. Texas author, musician and politician Kinky Friedman used the joke during his unsuccessful 2006 campaign to become Texas governor.

“The word ‘politics’ is derived from the word ‘poly’ meaning ‘many’, and the word ‘ticks’ meaning ‘blood sucking parasites’.”
Larry Hardiman quotes

(Oxford English Dictionary)
politics, n.
Etymology:  < politic-ic suffix 2), after Middle French politiques, polliticques public affairs, government, also the title of Aristotle’s treatise on politics (all late 14th cent.) and its models post-classical Latin politica, the title of Aristotle’s treatise on politics (14th cent. in British sources), public affairs (c1488 in a British source), and ancient Greek τὰ πολιτικά public matters, civic affairs.

15 September 1988, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, “City in Transition” by Niela M. Eliason, City Times, pg. 2:
He likes to use humor in his lectures, For instance, he defines “politics” as “poly” (many) + “tick” (blood-sucking parasites).

Google Groups: rec.motorcycles
Newsgroups: rec.motorcycles
From: (David Svoboda)
Date: Thu, 4 Jun 1992 13:46:48 GMT
Local: Thurs, Jun 4 1992 8:46 am
Subject: Parking Lots (was Re: rear brake usage )

Politics: Poly, meaning “many”, and tics, meaning “tiny bloodsucking parasites”.

Google Groups: alt.sex
Newsgroups: soc.culture.usa, soc.women, alt.sex
Followup-To: soc.culture.usa, soc.women, alt.sex
From: (robert.j.brown)
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1992 21:14:52 GMT
Local: Thurs, Jun 11 1992 4:14 pm
Subject: Re: Promiscuity

Politics n. Poli -> many, Tic(k)s - blood sucking parasites

Google Groups: rec.humor.funny
Newsgroups: rec.humor.funny
From: (Larry Hardiman x68019)
Date: Sun, 11 Oct 92 12:20:05 EDT
Local: Sun, Oct 11 1992 11:20 am
Subject: Absolute Gospel Truth!

The following was told to me by a colleague at work. It seems appropriate, considering the season and the scum that’s running for office.

The word “politics” is derived from the word “poly”, meaning “many”, and the word “ticks”, meaning “blood sucking parasites”.

Google Groups: rec.music.synth
Newsgroups: rec.music.synth
From: (Jon Wätte)
Date: Mon, 2 Nov 1992 08:40:12 GMT
Local: Mon, Nov 2 1992 3:40 am
Subject: Re: SGI Indigo: Dig. Audio & Animation

The word “politics” is derived from the word “poly”, meaning “many”, and the word “ticks”, meaning “blood sucking parasites”. 
-- Larry Hardiman

1 November 1992, Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ), “A fair observer will find that politicians all aren’t that bad”: 
“Politics,” the joke goes, is a Greek word with two roots - “poli,” meaning many; and “tics,” meaning blood-sucking parasites. I stole this line, actually, from our cartoonist, Fitz, who had stolen it from Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, who undoubtedly stole it from someone else—because we all know that politicians never have original thoughts.

Google News Archive
28 November 1995, Boca Raton (FL) News, “Politics...and they call us apathetic” by Wayne Lockwood, pg. 8A, col. 4:
Ah, politics. From the Latin root “poli,” meaning many, and the suffix “tics,” meaning blood-sucking parasites.

Google Books
Fractured English:
A pleasury of bloopers and blunders, fluffs and flubs, and saffes and goofs

By Richard Lederer
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
Pg. 45:
The word politics derives from poly, “many,” and ticks, “blood-sucking parasites.”

Google Books
The Word Circus:
A letter-perfect book

By Richard Lederer and Dave Morice
Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster
Pg. 95:
“The word politics is formed from poly, which means “many” (as in polygon, polyglot, polytheism, and polygamy), and tics, which are bloodsucking parasites. 

The Hindu Business Line
Sunday, Jan 25, 2004
A time for change?
D. Murali
I don’t enjoy politics. What does it mean actually? It is the art or science of Government or governing. The word politics has its origin in Greek `politikos’, meaning `citizen’ if only to imply that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians. Larry Hardiman gives a twist: “The word `politics’ is derived from `poly’ meaning `many’ and `ticks’ meaning `blood-sucking parasites’.”

Google Books
Political Keywords:
Using language that uses us

By Roderick P. Hart
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
Pg. 19:
As if to settle the confusion, the Urban Dictionary declares that politics comes from the Greek root poly, meaning “many,” and tics, which are, of course, bloodsucking parasites.

Google News Archive
21 October 2006, Fredericksburg (VA) Free Lance-Star, “Meet would-be Texas governor Kinky Friedman,” pg. C9, cols. 2-3:
A segment about the race is on, and Friedman’s delivering one of his oft-recycled cracks about the definition of politics—“Poly means more than one, and ticks are bloodsucking parasites.” (The line was originated by “some guy in Corpus,” explains Friedman, king of the one-liners. “It’s not that great.”

Pittsburgh (PA) Tribune-Review
New Year’s resolutions
By Ralph R. Reiland
Monday, December 31, 2007
On government, from Larry Hardiman: “The word ‘politics’ is derived from the word ‘poly,’ meaning ‘many,’ and the word ‘ticks,’ meaning ‘blood-sucking parasites.’”

Google Books
What Would Kinky Do?:
How to Unscrew a Screwed-Up World

By Kinky Friedman
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
These are only a few of the reasons that have goosed me into coming up with my own definition of politics. It goes as follows: Poly means more than one, and ticks are blood-sucking parasites.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Military/Religion /Health • (0) Comments • Monday, December 20, 2010 • Permalink