au·​toc·​ra·​cy | \ȯ-ˈtä-krə-sē \
plural autocracies

Definition of autocracy 

1 : the authority or rule of an autocrat

2 : government in which one person possesses unlimited power

3 : a community or state governed by autocracy

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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

Throughout its history, the Russian Orthodox Church had been subservient to the state and an unshakable supporter of autocracy. Michael Khodarkovsky, WSJ, "Russia Wages a Religious War Against Ukraine," 30 Sep. 2018 Analysts and intellectuals say his lack of respect for Mexican government institutions could usher in a period of quasi-autocracy. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump lost a battle on family separations, but his immigration war continues," 21 June 2018 So long as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other anti-Iran regimes in the Middle East remain repressive autocracies, these public opinion numbers will mean little. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Arab Leaders Have Abandoned Gaza, Too," 1 May 2018 Protesting is an alternative source of political accountability in autocracies and weak democracies — where votes do not seem to matter at times. Lisa Mueller, Washington Post, "Niger’s protests are ramping up. Here’s why.," 26 Mar. 2018 Since Yameen’s election, Maldives has been fast sliding back into autocracy. Washington Post, "AP Interview: Fugitive Maldives ex-leader aims for return," 1 June 2018 Populism can indeed become a threat to democracy if populists in power undermine liberal institutions and enable the emergence of illiberal democracy that can, with time, degenerate into outright electoral autocracy. Angelos Chryssogelos, Time, "The Populism Debate Ignores the Real Lessons of Italy's Political Crisis," 31 May 2018 It both caricatures the autocracy of tsarism and anticipates Bolshevism’s descent into tyranny. The Economist, "An eerie dystopian prophecy by a disillusioned Bolshevik," 31 May 2018 In a global survey, Bertelsmann found that 12 democracies have combated corruption successfully while only one autocracy did so. The Christian Science Monitor, "Hungary plants two kinds of seeds," 11 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'autocracy.' 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 autocracy

1659, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for autocracy

see autocrat

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Statistics for autocracy

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for autocracy

The first known use of autocracy was in 1659

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More Definitions for autocracy



English Language Learners Definition of autocracy

: a form of government in which a country is ruled by a person or group with total power

: a country that is ruled by a person or group with total power

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by force of circumstances

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