au·​toc·​ra·​cy | \ ȯ-ˈtä-krə-sē How to pronounce autocracy (audio) \
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

Contrast Malaysia's political renaissance with Cambodia's descent into autocracy under Hun Sen. Matthew Pennington, Fox News, "Malaysia, Cambodia offer 2 Asian narratives of change at UN," 27 Sep. 2018 The puzzle is not solved by crafting pseudoscientific tests for autocracy that give equal weight to harsh words and malign acts. The Economist, "The deeper shifts affecting democracy in America," 25 Jan. 2018 However, history is filled with examples of countries that have gone in the direction of autocracy and dictatorship and regretted it. Fox News, "China allows Xi to remain president indefinitely, tightening his grip on power," 11 Mar. 2018 In other words, the same fake news techniques that benefit autocracies by making everyone unsure about political alternatives undermine democracies by making people question the common political systems that bind their society. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The UK’s inquiry into fake news is focused on a long-dead bikini-finding app," 27 Nov. 2018 This is simultaneously a recipe for vaporware and for autocracy. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Trump’s incompetence and authoritarianism are both scary," 15 Nov. 2018 But the slide towards autocracy has pushed millions to stand up and demand a say in how their lives are governed. Vivienne Walt, Time, "Meet 4 Crusaders Who Are Keeping the Dream of Democracy Alive," 12 July 2018 Over the past year, Mr Xi has sought to present China as a model for other countries, a meritocratic autocracy that has presided over fast economic growth and avoided the muddle and policy lurches that have beset democracies. The Economist, "Ruler for lifeChina’s leader, Xi Jinping, will be allowed to reign forever," 26 Feb. 2018 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

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

20 May 2019

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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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using a distributed computer network

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