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noun tyr·an·ny \ˈtir-ə-nē\

: cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others

: a government in which all power belongs to one person : the rule or authority of a tyrant

plural tyr·an·nies

Full Definition of TYRANNY

:  oppressive power <every form of tyranny over the mind of man — Thomas Jefferson>; especially :  oppressive power exerted by government <the tyranny of a police state>
a :  a government in which absolute power is vested in a single ruler; especially :  one characteristic of an ancient Greek city-state
b :  the office, authority, and administration of a tyrant
:  a rigorous condition imposed by some outside agency or force <living under the tyranny of the clock — Dixon Wecter>
:  an oppressive, harsh, or unjust act :  a tyrannical act <workers who had suffered tyrannies>

Examples of TYRANNY

  1. The refugees were fleeing tyranny.
  2. He was dedicated to ending the tyranny of slavery.
  3. a nation ruled by tyranny
  4. She felt lost in the bureaucratic tyrannies of the university system.
  5. The king sought an absolute tyranny over the colonies.
  6. Cars freed Americans, already infamous for their mobility, from the tyranny of train schedules. —Cynthia Crossen, Wall Street Journal, 7 May 2003

Origin of TYRANNY

Middle English tyrannie, from Middle French, from Medieval Latin tyrannia, from Latin tyrannus tyrant
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Government and Politics Terms

agent provocateur, agitprop, autarky, cabal, egalitarianism, federalism, hegemony, plenipotentiary, popular sovereignty, socialism
TYRANNIES Defined for Kids


noun tyr·an·ny \ˈtir-ə-nē\
plural tyr·an·nies

Definition of TYRANNY for Kids

:  an act or the pattern of harsh, cruel, and unfair control over other people
:  a government in which all power is in the hands of a single ruler


Next Word in the Dictionary: tyrantPrevious Word in the Dictionary: TyrannusAll Words Near: tyranny
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