The word regime (also "régime", from the original French spelling) refers to a set of conditions, most often of political nature, such as a government.


In formal usage, a régime is the form of government or the set of rules, cultural or social norms, etc. that regulate the operation of a government or institution and its interactions with society.

Modern usage

While the word régime originates as a synonym for any form of government, modern usage often gives the term a negative connotation, implying an authoritarian government or dictatorship. Webster's definition states that the word régime refers simply to a form of government,[1] while Oxford English Dictionary defines regime as "a government, especially an authoritarian one".[2]

Contemporary academic usage of the term "regime" is broader than popular and journalistic usage, meaning "an intermediate stratum between the government (which makes day-to-day decisions and is easy to alter) and the state (which is a complex bureaucracy tasked with a range of coercive functions)."[3] In global studies and international relations the concept of regime is also used to name international regulatory agencies (see International regime), which lie outside of the control of national governments. Some authors thus distinguish analytically between institutions and regimes while recognizing that they are bound up with each other:

Institutions as we describe them are publicly enacted, relatively-enduring bodies of practice, procedures and norms, ranging from formalized legal entities such as the WTO to more informal but legally-buttressed and abiding sets of practices and regimes such as the liberal capitalist market. The key phrases here are ‘publicly enacted’ and ‘relatively enduring’. The phrase ‘publicly enacted’ in this sense implies active projection, legal sanction, and often as not, some kind of opposition.[4]

In other words, regimes can be defined as sets of protocols and norms embedded either in institutions or institutionalized practices - formal such as states or informal such as the "liberal trade regime" - that are publicly enacted and relatively enduring.[4]


In a variety of medical contexts a regime is a set of rules or procedures to be followed in treating patients over a period. It is frequently used in terms such as "therapeutic/therapy regime", "treatment regime", and "chemotherapy regime". Typically, a regime sets out the dosage and frequency of drugs or radiotherapy to be used, and often other aspects of medical care.


In scientific discussions, a regime is a class of physical conditions, usually parameterised by some specific measures, where a particular physical phenomenon or boundary condition is significant. Very often a regime corresponds to a limiting condition. The region of measurable parameter space that corresponds to a regime is very often loosely defined. Examples include "the superfluid regime",[5] "the steady state regime"[6] or "the femtosecond regime".[7]

In geography and hydrography, "regime" refers to the changing conditions of river beds and other features, such as systems of sandbars.

See also

Look up regime or regimen in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.


  1. Regime as defined in the Merriam–Webster website
  2. Regime as defined in the Oxford English Dictionary
  3. Breakdown of the GCC Initiative
  4. 1 2 James, Paul; Palen, Ronen (2007). Globalization and Economy, Vol. 3: Global Economic Regimes and Institutions. London: Sage Publications. p. xiv.
  5. Fermi gases approach superfluid regime
  6. A. R. Kolovsky, Steady-state regime for the rotational dynamics of a molecule at the condition of quantum chaos, Phys. Rev. A 48 (1993) 3072
  7. M. Lenzner et al., Femtosecond Optical Breakdown in Dielectrics, PRL 80 (1998) 4076


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