com·​mis·​sar ˈkä-mə-ˌsär How to pronounce commissar (audio)
: a Communist party official assigned to a military unit to teach party principles and policies and to ensure party loyalty
: one that attempts to control public opinion or its expression
: the head of a government department in the Soviet Union until 1946

Examples of commissar in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In July, the Rocket Force abruptly replaced its two leaders, the commander and the political commissar, with no explanation. Nectar Gan, CNN, 31 Jan. 2024 This is the final fruit of our commissars treating personal decisions, such as whether to wear a mask amid a pandemic or whom to vote for, as being subject to their advice and consent. Peter Tonguette, Washington Examiner, 12 Jan. 2024 The commissar represents the Communist Party and monitors its control within the PLA. Brad Lendon, CNN, 2 Aug. 2023 Wang was the former deputy commander of the PLA Navy, while Xu was the former deputy political commissar of the Southern Theater Command, one of the PLA’s five theater commands. Brad Lendon, CNN, 2 Aug. 2023 General Li, along with the political commissar of the force, Xu Zhongbo, and another deputy, Liu Guangbin, has vanished from public view. Chris Buckley, New York Times, 7 Aug. 2023 Xu Xisheng, from China’s air force, was made political commissar, an equally senior position in charge of enforcing party directives. Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, 2 Aug. 2023 But Weizmann was a diplomat, not a commissar. Assaf Sharon, The New York Review of Books, 20 Oct. 2021 On Monday, the governor of the Khabarovsk region in the Far East said that half of the men called up there, numbering in the thousands, should not have been drafted and had been sent home and that the region’s military commissar had been dismissed. Anton Troianovski, New York Times, 3 Oct. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'commissar.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Russian komissar, borrowed from German Kommissar, earlier Commissar "person delegated to perform an office, commissioner" borrowed from Medieval Latin commissārius commissary

First Known Use

1921, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of commissar was in 1921

Dictionary Entries Near commissar

Cite this Entry

“Commissar.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


com·​mis·​sar ˈkäm-ə-ˌsär How to pronounce commissar (audio)
: the head of a government department in the U.S.S.R. before 1946

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