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A caucus is most generally defined as being a meeting of supporters or members of a political party or movement. The exact definition varies between different countries.

In the United States, a caucus is a meeting of local members of a political party or subgroup to nominate candidates, plan policy, etc., in the Congress of the United States or other similar representative organs of government. One of the best-known examples is the Congressional Black Caucus, a group of African-American members of Congress. Other examples include the caucuses used by some states to select presidential nominees, such as the Iowa caucuses.

The word can also be used to mean all the deputies in an assembly who come from a certain geographical or other background, for example "the southern caucus."

The origin of the word "caucus" is debated, although it is generally agreed that it came into use in English in the United States. According to some sources, it comes from the Algonquin word for "counsel," cau´-cau-as´u, and was probably introduced into American political usage through the Democratic Party machine in New York known as Tammany Hall, which liked to use Native American terms. Other sources claim that it derived from Medieval Latin caucus, meaning "drinking vessel", and link it to the Boston Club. In the Finnish language, there is also a word, kokous, meaning an official meeting. The existence of this word in the Finnish language supports the theory that it has European origins. It is also known that many Finns moved to the United States, more specifically to the East Coast and the areas surrounding the Great Lakes.


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