AskDefine | Define kingmaker

Dictionary Definition

kingmaker n : an important person who can bring leaders to power through the exercise of political influence; "the Earl of Warwick was the first kingmaker"

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Someone who helps making a leader a force to reckon with, without having any desire to get to that position for themselves. This term is mostly used for person who has powerful influence in choosing the candidate for public representation.


Extensive Definition

"Kingmaker" is a term originally applied to the activities of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick during the Wars of the Roses in England. The term has come to be applied more generally to a person or group that has great influence in a royal or political succession, without being a viable candidate. Kingmakers may use political, monetary, religious, and/or military means to interfere in the succession. Examples include:

In game theory

In game theory, a kingmaker is a player who lacks sufficient resources or position to win at a given game, but possesses enough remaining resources to decide which of the remaining viable players will eventually win.

Contemporary usage

By analogy, "Kingmaker" is also used in some countries to refer to those with the ability to influence the selection of political leaders.
Modern politicians known as "Kingmaker" include:

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Machiavellian, Rasputin, Svengali, VIP, access, bad influence, behind-the-scenes operator, big wheel, court, eminence grise, finagler, five-percenter, friend at court, gamesman, good influence, gray eminence, heavyweight, hidden hand, influence, influence peddler, influencer, ingroup, key, lobby, lobbyist, logroller, lords of creation, machinator, man of influence, manipulator, open sesame, operator, pork-barrel politician, powers that be, pressure group, sinister influence, special interests, special-interest group, strategist, the Establishment, very important person, wheeler-dealer, wire-puller
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