au·​toc·​ra·​cy ȯ-ˈtä-krə-sē How to pronounce autocracy (audio)
plural autocracies
: the authority or rule of an autocrat
: government in which one person possesses unlimited power
: a community or state governed by autocracy

Examples of autocracy in a Sentence

the Magna Carta is historically important because it signified the British rejection of autocracy and constituted the first formal restraining of the power of the monarch
Recent Examples on the Web Purists insist on gin, of course, but given my national background growing up in a famous autocracy high up by the Gulf of Finland, my constitution prefers vodka for the recovery process the morning after. Gary Shteyngart, The New Yorker, 24 Apr. 2024 Politics matter, even under autocracies and, in the Middle East, political forces move seamlessly between the domestic and the regional. Marc Lynch, Foreign Affairs, 22 Apr. 2024 China’s autocracy side-steps such policy messiness, proceeding in unchanging, half-decade increments with its serial five-year plans. Jeffrey Kluger, TIME, 1 Apr. 2024 Something extraordinary happened last Sunday in a small nation on the west coast of Africa, at a time when strongman regimes and outright autocracies are on the rise around the globe. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Mar. 2024 In autocracies, much of politics ends up revolving around the obsessions of the supreme leader — in Putin’s case, eliminating all personal political competition and destroying Ukraine as a large and thriving Western-leaning democracy on Russia’s border. Catherine Belton, Washington Post, 18 Mar. 2024 They are being overrun by autocracies around the world. Randy Myers, The Mercury News, 8 Apr. 2024 In a sense, one version of this autocracy is replaced with another — and nothing changes much for the people who live at the whims of the ruling class. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 7 Apr. 2024 Last May, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey handily secured another term as head of state, shattering the morale of the political opposition and raising fears among his critics that his hold on the government would enable him to further edge Turkey toward autocracy. Ben Hubbard, New York Times, 1 Apr. 2024

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

Word History


earlier, "self-control," borrowed from Greek autokrateîa "self-control, power over oneself," from autokratḗs "ruling by itself (of a mind), with sole authority (for a task)" + -ia -y entry 2 — more at autocrat

Note: The word acquired the present meaning under the influence of Latin autocratōr (from about the fifth century on) and Greek autokrátōr, meaning "with sole authority," and later by association with autocrat. See note at autocrat.

First Known Use

1659, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of autocracy was in 1659

Dictionary Entries Near autocracy

Cite this Entry

“Autocracy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


au·​toc·​ra·​cy ȯ-ˈtäk-rə-sē How to pronounce autocracy (audio)
plural autocracies
: government in which one person has unlimited power

More from Merriam-Webster on autocracy

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