au·​to·​crat·​ic | \ ˌȯ-tə-ˈkra-tik How to pronounce autocratic (audio) \
variants: or less commonly autocratical \ -​ti-​kəl How to pronounce autocratical (audio) \

Definition of autocratic

1 : of, relating to, or being an autocracy : absolute an autocratic government
2 : characteristic of or resembling an autocrat : despotic an autocratic ruler

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Other Words from autocratic

autocratically \ -​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce autocratically (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for autocratic


absolute, arbitrary, czarist (also tsarist), despotic, dictatorial, monocratic, tyrannical (also tyrannic), tyrannous



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Did You Know?

Autos in Greek means "same" or "self", so in an autocratic government all the power is held by the leader him- or herself. Autocratic governments are often called dictatorships, or sometimes autocracies. In everyday life, a teacher, a parent, or a football coach can all behave like autocrats as well.

Examples of autocratic in a Sentence

democracy is supposed to protect the people against the rise of autocratic rulers an autocratic Boy Scout leader who is under the delusion that he's still an army colonel

Recent Examples on the Web

Playing on the conservative sentiments of Turkey’s small-town and rural residents, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once the poster boy for Islamic democracy, has parlayed a narrow majority into quasi-autocratic power. William A. Galston, WSJ, "Democracy Could Bounce Back in 2019," 31 Dec. 2018 The tumult began in earnest on Dec. 19 over skyrocketing prices and a failing economy, but has led to calls for the autocratic ruler’s removal. Brian Rohan, The Seattle Times, "Al Jazeera says Sudan withdraws journalists’ work permits," 22 Jan. 2019 Their business-friendly reforms, Mr Renzi’s autocratic ways and the objections to both from more traditional left-wingers have stretched the party’s unity to breaking point. The Economist, "Problems forming a government in Italy," 15 Mar. 2018 But this sordid episode isn’t best thought of as the clash between an autocratic ruler and a democratic hero. Karen Elliott House, WSJ, "Why Kill Jamal Khashoggi?," 14 Oct. 2018 Big problems also of actually these things being manipulated autocratic regimes. Recode Staff, Recode, "How India fits into the global economy: It may not be China, but at least it isn’t Russia," 4 Aug. 2018 During the latter part of Mubarak's rule, the government and security establishment tolerated certain forms of dissent and even allowed the opposition Muslim Brotherhood to field candidates, spreading a veneer of democracy over an autocratic regime. Alexandra Zavis,, "In Egypt's election, the president's victory is assured. The question is what happens next?," 24 Mar. 2018 Autocrats are often incompetent There are undoubtedly real examples of autocratic rulers who are also savvy, highly skilled technocrats who excel at devising and implementing public policy. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Trump’s incompetence and authoritarianism are both scary," 15 Nov. 2018 The budding democracy, also coping with extremist attacks, is having trouble overcoming political problems despite major strides since autocratic leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in 2011. Bouazza Ben Bouazza, The Seattle Times, "Tunisia PM faces confidence vote amid political tensions," 12 Nov. 2018

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

1769, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for autocratic

see autocrat

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Last Updated

27 Feb 2019

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The first known use of autocratic was in 1769

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