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A policy is typically described as a principle or rule to guide decisions and achieve rational outcome(s). The term is not normally used to denote what is actually done, which is normally referred to as either procedure or protocol. Policies can assist in both subjective and objective decision making.


  • [Policy] is like a play in many acts, which unfolds inevitably once the curtain is raised. To declare then that the performance will not take place is an absurdity. The play will go on, either by means of the actors … or by means of the spectators who mount the stage…. Intelligent people never consider this the essence of the problem, however. For them it lies in the decision whether the curtain is to be raised at all, whether the spectators are to be assembled and in the intrinsic quality of the play.
    • Klemens von Metternich, Aus Metternich's Nachgelassenen Papieren (1880), vol. 8, p. 190, as quoted by Henry Kissinger, A World Restored (1957), chapter 4, p. 41.
  • Turn him to any cause of policy,
    The Gordian knot of it he will unloose,
    Familiar as his garter: that, when he speaks,
    The air, a charter'd libertine, is still.
  • To beguile the time,
    Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,
    Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower,
    But be the serpent under 't.
  • We shall not I believe, be obliged to alter our policy of watchful waiting.
    • Woodrow Wilson, Annual Message (December 2, 1913), alluding to Mexico.
  • We have stood apart, studiously neutral.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 610.
  • Mahomet made the people believe that he would call a hill to him, and from the top of it offer up his prayers for the observers of his law. The people assembled; Mahomet called the hill to come to him, again and again; and when the hill stood still, he was never a whit abashed, but said, "If the hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the hill."
  • It is better to walk than to run; it is better to stand than to walk; it is better to sit than to stand; it is better to lie than to sit.
    • Hindu proverb.
  • Masterly inactivity.
  • When I see a merchant over-polite to his customers, begging them to taste a little brandy and throwing half his goods on the counter,—thinks I, that man has an axe to grind.
  • The publick weal requires that a man should betray, and lye, and massacre.

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