Policy vs Practice - What's the difference?

policy | practice |

As nouns the difference between policy and practice

is that policy is (obsolete) the art of governance; political science or policy can be a contract of insurance while practice is repetition of an activity to improve skill.

As verbs the difference between policy and practice

is that policy is to regulate by laws; to reduce to order while practice is (us) to repeat (an activity) as a way of improving one's skill in that activity.

Other Comparisons: What's the difference?



Etymology 1

From (etyl) policie, from . Compare police.


  • (obsolete) The art of governance; political science.
  • * a. 1616 , (William Shakespeare), Henry V , I.1:
  • List his discourse of Warre; and you shall heare / A fearefull Battaile rendred you in Musique. / Turne him to any Cause of Pollicy , / The Gordian Knot of it he will vnloose, / Familiar as his Garter
  • (obsolete) A state; a polity.
  • (obsolete) A set political system; civil administration.
  • (obsolete) A trick; a stratagem.
  • * a. 1594 , (William Shakespeare), Titus Andronicus :
  • 'Tis pollicie , and stratageme must doe / That you affect, and so must you resolue, / That what you cannot as you would atcheiue, / You must perforce accomplish as you may.
  • A principle of behaviour, conduct etc. thought to be desirable or necessary, especially as formally expressed by a government or other authoritative body.
  • The Communist Party has a policy of returning power to the workers.
  • Wise or advantageous conduct; prudence, formerly also with connotations of craftiness.
  • * 1813 , Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice , Modern Library Edition (1995), page 140:
  • These bitter accusations might have been suppressed, had I with greater policy concealed my struggles, and flattered you
  • * Fuller
  • The very policy of a hostess, finding his purse so far above his clothes, did detect him.
  • (now, rare) Specifically, political shrewdness or (formerly) cunning; statecraft.
  • * 1946 , (Bertrand Russell), History of Western Philosophy , I.25:
  • Whether he believed himself a god, or only took on the attributes of divinity from motives of policy , is a question for the psychologist, since the historical evidence is indecisive.
  • (Scotland, now, chiefly, in the plural) The grounds of a large country house.
  • * 1955 , (Robin Jenkins), The Cone-Gatherers , Canongate 2012, page 36:
  • Next morning was so splendid that as he walked through the policies towards the mansion house despair itself was lulled.
  • (obsolete) Motive; object; inducement.
  • * Sir Philip Sidney
  • What policy have you to bestow a benefit where it is counted an injury?
    Derived terms
    * policied * policymaker * policy shift * endowment policy * fiscal policy * honesty is the best policy * monetary policy * policy mix


  • To regulate by laws; to reduce to order.
  • * Francis Bacon
  • Policying of cities.''

    Etymology 2

    From (etyl) police, from (etyl) polizza, from


  • A contract of insurance
  • * Your insurance policy covers fire and theft only.
  • (obsolete) An illegal daily lottery in late nineteenth and early twentieth century USA on numbers drawn from a lottery wheel (no plural )
  • A number pool lottery
  • Synonyms
    * (number pool) policy racket
    Derived terms
    * policyholder


    Alternative forms

    * (British) practise (used only for the verb )


  • Repetition of an activity to improve skill.
  • He will need lots of practice with the lines before he performs them.
  • (uncountable) The ongoing pursuit of a craft or profession, particularly in medicine or the fine arts.
  • (countable) A place where a professional service is provided, such as a general practice.
  • She ran a thriving medical practice .
  • The observance of religious duties that a church requires of its members.
  • A customary action, habit, or behavior; a manner or routine.
  • It is the usual practice of employees there to wear neckties only when meeting with customers.
    It is good practice to check each door and window before leaving.
  • Actual operation or experiment, in contrast to theory.
  • That may work in theory, but will it work in practice ?
  • (legal) The form, manner, and order of conducting and carrying on suits and prosecutions through their various stages, according to the principles of law and the rules laid down by the courts.
  • This firm of solicitors is involved in family law practice .
  • Skilful or artful management; dexterity in contrivance or the use of means; stratagem; artifice.
  • * Sir Philip Sidney
  • He sought to have that by practice which he could not by prayer.
    (Francis Bacon)
  • (math) A easy and concise method of applying the rules of arithmetic to questions which occur in trade and business.
  • Usage notes

    British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand English distinguish between practice'' (a noun) and ''practise (a verb), analogously with advice/advise. In American English, practice is commonly used for both forms, and this is also common in Canada.


    * (improvement of skill) rehearsal, drill, exercise, training, workout * (customary action) custom, habit, routine, wont, wone * fashion, pattern, trick, way, dry run, trial

    Derived terms

    * general practice * overpractice * practice makes perfect * practice what one preaches * put into practice * sharp practice


  • (US) To repeat (an activity) as a way of improving one's skill in that activity.
  • You should practice playing piano every day.
  • (US) To repeat an activity in this way.
  • If you want to speak French well, you need to practice .
  • (US) To perform or observe in a habitual fashion.
  • * {{quote-magazine, year=2012, month=March-April
  • , author=John T. Jost , title=Social Justice: Is It in Our Nature (and Our Future)? , volume=100, issue=2, page=162 , magazine=(American Scientist) citation , passage=He draws eclectically on studies of baboons, descriptive anthropological accounts of hunter-gatherer societies and, in a few cases, the fossil record. With this biological framework in place, Corning endeavors to show that the capitalist system as currently practiced in the United States and elsewhere is manifestly unfair.}}
    They gather to practice religion every Saturday.
  • (US) To pursue (a career, especially law, fine art or medicine).
  • She practiced law for forty years before retiring.
  • (intransitive, archaic, US) To conspire.
  • Usage notes

    * In sense "to repeat an activity as a way improving one's skill" this is a catenative verb that takes the gerund (-ing) . See

    Derived terms

    * practiced * practicing