cau·​di·​llo | \ kau̇-ˈt͟hē-(ˌ)yō How to pronounce caudillo (audio) , -ˈt͟hēl-(ˌ)yō How to pronounce caudillo (audio) \
plural caudillos

Definition of caudillo

: a Spanish or Latin American military dictator

Examples of caudillo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Between his daily fulminations against the press and his fondness for campaign pageantry, there’s something of the tropical caudillo about him. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, "The Fight for the Latino Vote in Florida," 16 Sep. 2019 Congressional Democrats are, of course, outraged: How dare this aspiring caudillo order a vehicle belonging to the government to be painted red, white, and blue! Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "On Painting Air Force One," 13 June 2019 By now he was seen as a man of the right, sometimes a caudillo himself. The Economist, "Obituary: Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, the first cardinal from Central America," 23 June 2018 Some see him as a caudillo in the making: a strongman who will rule through the politics of personality and demolish institutions instead of reforming them. Jonah Shepp, Daily Intelligencer, "AMLO Isn’t Mexico’s Trump – Nor Is He Trump’s Natural Enemy," 5 July 2018 As the Cold War wound to an end, however, the dictatorships fell, and the caudillo generals retreated into the historical shadows. Ioan Grillo, The New Republic, "When Democracy Isn’t Enough," 6 June 2018 In Latin America, the specter of the caudillo, or military leader, has made a comeback. Ian Bremmer, Time, "The 'Strongmen Era' Is Here. Here’s What It Means for You," 3 May 2018 His fellow populist caudillos in Latin America are each in varying degrees of trouble. The Economist, "Riots threaten Nicaragua’s autocratic president," 26 Apr. 2018 Like most of its neighbors, Venezuela endured a succession of caudillo strongmen in the early 20th century and responded with a radical leftist movement in the 1950s and ’60s. Wil S. Hylton, New York Times, "Can Venezuela Be Saved?," 1 Mar. 2018

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

1852, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for caudillo

Spanish, chief, leader, from Late Latin capitellum small head — more at cadet

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Statistics for caudillo

Last Updated

20 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for caudillo

The first known use of caudillo was in 1852

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More from Merriam-Webster on caudillo

Spanish Central: Translation of caudillo Encyclopedia article about caudillo

Comments on caudillo

What made you want to look up caudillo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


concealment of treason or felony

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