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

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

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Other Words from authoritarian

authoritarian noun
authoritarianism \ ȯ-​ˌthȯr-​ə-​ˈter-​ē-​ə-​ˌni-​zəm How to pronounce authoritarianism (audio) , ə-​ , -​ˌthär-​ \ 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 China is an authoritarian state that competes with the United States in military, trade and diplomatic spheres, and relations between the two countries have become particularly testy since Trump took office. Los Angeles Times, "Was the coronavirus made in a Wuhan lab? Here’s what the genetic evidence shows," 9 May 2020 This has been adapted from its quotidian authoritarian-state objectives to coronavirus tracking, with the state making sure the interactions of every person newly confirmed as infected are quickly and definitively traced. oregonlive, "What will return and what won’t when Oregon and rest of U.S. reopen to a ‘new normal’?," 27 Apr. 2020 This is the time to build new institutions that reflect the realities of a 21st century that pits liberal democracies against an authoritarian surveillance state. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "America Can’t Face China Alone," 25 Apr. 2020 Born into the party's ruling elite, the 69-year-old has often been outspoken on Chinese politics, far more than is usually allowed in the authoritarian state. Ben Westcott, CNN, "Chinese billionaire who criticized Xi Jinping over coronavirus under investigation," 8 Apr. 2020 Ma’s presence on the global stage in the past helped soften rising global scrutiny towards China’s increasingly authoritarian state, say some observers. Jane Li, Quartz, "Jack Ma is the coronavirus ambassador that China needs," 19 Mar. 2020 Of course, China has an authoritarian government and location data was pulled from individuals' phones and processed by the government—something that simply would not fly in the U.S. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "This MIT App Tracks the Spread of Coronavirus While Protecting Your Privacy," 18 Mar. 2020 North Korea, another authoritarian state, has released little information about possible cases. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, "Live updates: Coronavirus death toll tops 3,000 in China as global costs mount," 5 Mar. 2020 Most of the cases the PCA hears do not involve unratified treaties with provisional application or tax judgments made by authoritarian states whose legal rulings cannot be trusted. The Economist, "Putin v the oligarchs How one word in a treaty could cost Russia billions for seizing Yukos," 16 Feb. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of authoritarian

1861, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for authoritarian

see authority

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Time Traveler for authoritarian

Time Traveler

The first known use of authoritarian was in 1861

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Statistics for authoritarian

Last Updated

19 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Authoritarian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for authoritarian


How to pronounce authoritarian (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of authoritarian

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

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