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

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 Despite the initial directives from revolutionary leaders, the protests that began on March 8 grew to daily mass strikes of workers from all sectors demanding bread, better rights and the end to autocracy. Suyin Haynes, Time, "The Radical Reason Why March 8 Is International Women's Day," 8 Mar. 2018 Because Saudi Arabia and other Arab autocracies are not democracies, their policies do not necessarily reflect the will of their own people, who remain strongly pro-Palestinian. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Arab Leaders Have Abandoned Gaza, Too," 1 May 2018 But his consolidation of power comes against a background of liberal democracy backsliding and strongman autocracies rising across the globe. Charlie Campbell / Beijing, Time, "China's Annual Parliament Has Rarely Felt Like Such a Charade," 5 Mar. 2018 Hypothetical question: If a former reality TV star can drag America toward autocracy, can a career Democrat tip it into mob rule? Avi Selk, Washington Post, "Rep. Maxine Waters condemned for urging public harassment of Trump officials," 25 June 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

9 Sep 2018

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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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