Napoleon complex


plural Napoleon complexes
: a domineering or aggressive attitude perceived as a form of overcompensation for being physically small or short
not used technically
… short-fused assistant principals with Napoleon complexes.Robert Wilder
Call it a Napoleon complex or call it confidence, but the tiniest of dogs are usually the ones who take no crap.Heather Barnett
He has a Napoleon complex, by virtue of being small and young in a job meant for the mighty and wise.Spencer Kornhaber
Allison Anders was not your typical five-foot, four-inch film school nerd with a Napoleon complex the size of Texas.Veronica Chambers

Examples of Napoleon complex in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Everyone’s familiar with the Napoleon complex—a syndrome wherein a man displays aggressive or domineering behavior to compensate for his short stature. Graham Techler, The New Yorker, 1 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Napoleon complex.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


after napoléon i (Napoléon Bonaparte)

First Known Use

1924, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Napoleon complex was in 1924

Dictionary Entries Near Napoleon complex

Cite this Entry

“Napoleon complex.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

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