au·​thor·​i·​tar·​i·​an | \ ȯ-ˌthär-ə-ˈter-ē-ən How to pronounce authoritarian (audio) , ə-, -ˌthȯr-\

Definition of authoritarian

1 : of, relating to, or favoring blind submission to authority had authoritarian parents
2 : of, relating to, or favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people an authoritarian regime

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from authoritarian

authoritarian noun
authoritarianism \ -​ē-​ə-​ˌni-​zəm How to pronounce authoritarianism (audio) \ noun

Examples of authoritarian in a Sentence

grew up with an authoritarian older sister who thought she was queen of the world an authoritarian coach who runs football practice like it's boot camp

Recent Examples on the Web

Hey @Delta -- Northeast Ohio would make a great HQ if you're put off by Mr. Cagle's authoritarian tendencies. Erin Edgemon,, "Birmingham mayor tweets to Delta 'Let's chat' after Georgia blocks airline's tax deal," 27 Feb. 2018 And Hanoi maintains an authoritarian, single-party system that suppresses dissent. Niharika Mandhana, WSJ, "At Trump-Kim Summit, Host Vietnam Blazes Trail for North Korea," 23 Feb. 2019 Beyond that, moving children to a family that government officials prefer is what authoritarian regimes all through history have done. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "The U.S. Is Tracking Migrant Girls' Periods to Stop Them From Getting Abortions," 2 Apr. 2019 Legal and financial advisers to Venezuela’s largest known group of U.S. bondholders released a paper Thursday proposing a road map for sorting out the country’s massive debts after the potential ouster of authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro. ... Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Venezuela Restructuring Options Emerge Among Creditors, Officials," 29 Mar. 2019 And Colombian voters see an object lesson in the Venezuelan collapse: Even the richest and most democratic nations can be turned into authoritarian wastelands by bad leadership. Jim Wyss, miamiherald, "'God save us from becoming Venezuela.' Colombians to vote in bitter presidential race | Miami Herald," 25 May 2018 Proposals for increased pressure on the authoritarian leader will be made during a meeting on Monday in the Colombian capital Bogotá. Ryan Dube, WSJ, "Maduro’s Opposition Urges Military Force in Venezuela," 24 Feb. 2019 But the increasingly authoritarian leader is viewed with suspicion across the political spectrum in Germany, which has had difficult relations with Ankara in recent years. Geir Moulson, Fox News, "Turkey's Erdogan heads to Germany on bridge-building visit," 27 Sep. 2018 Russia and China are authoritarian powers who do not share our joint aspirations of freedom. Matthew Lee, The Seattle Times, "US warns Hungary, other allies to shun business with Huawei," 11 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'authoritarian.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of authoritarian

1861, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for authoritarian

see authority

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about authoritarian

Statistics for authoritarian

Last Updated

20 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for authoritarian

The first known use of authoritarian was in 1861

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for authoritarian



English Language Learners Definition of authoritarian

: expecting or requiring people to obey rules or laws : not allowing personal freedom

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on authoritarian

What made you want to look up authoritarian? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!