des·​pot | \ ˈde-spət How to pronounce despot (audio) , -ˌspät \

Definition of despot

1a : a ruler with absolute power and authority tyrannical despots
b : one exercising power tyrannically : a person exercising absolute power in a brutal or oppressive way regards the basketball coach as a despot
2a : a Byzantine emperor or prince
b Christianity : a bishop or patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church
c : an Italian hereditary prince or military leader during the Renaissance

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Examples of despot in a Sentence

He was a successful basketball coach, but many people regarded him as a petty despot. The company is run by a benevolent despot.
Recent Examples on the Web The country could one day swing authoritarian and goose-step behind a narcissistic despot wannabe who can abuse such efforts to instead spy on and oppress opponents. Rubén Rosario, Twin Cities, "Rosario: Amber Alert for cops in danger makes its test debut in Minnesota," 15 Aug. 2019 Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Trump’s threats would only encourage despots of the world to target antiquities themselves. Peter Bakerand Maggie Haberman,, "Contradicting Trump, Pentagon rules out bombing Iran’s cultural sites," 6 Jan. 2020 Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Mr. Trump’s threats would only encourage despots of the world to target antiquities themselves. Peter Baker, New York Times, "Pentagon Rules Out Striking Iranian Cultural Sites, Contradicting Trump," 4 Jan. 2020 Ironically, the dictator or despot’s antipathy toward history reminds us of the transformative power of both memory and place to connect people across generations, borders, and other potentially fractious lines. Elizabeth Silkes, Time, "Cultural Heritage Reminds Us of Our Shared Humanity. That's Why Threats Against Them Are So Dangerous," 10 Jan. 2020 Healey’s Caesar was a charming despot, an intriguing interpretation that explained why a noble dude like Mark Antony would show such devotion to a dictator. Andrea Simakis, cleveland, "Power pairs, such as ‘Rastus and Hattie’ and ‘Tiny Houses,’ were the talk of the stage this season: Year in Review 2019," 28 Dec. 2019 Socialist Nicolas Maduro continues to hold office despite a yearlong quest by Juan Guaidó and his allies to remove the despot. Krista Kafer, The Denver Post, "Kafer: 2019 wasn’t the best or worst of times," 26 Dec. 2019 Her work challenges the nationalist myths being spouted by a growing number of would-be despots across Europe, including in her native Poland. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The Nobel Prize in Literature Is Just Trolling Now," 10 Oct. 2019 Throughout history, despots have tended to be silent, crafty and secretive. Ron Chernow, Twin Cities, "Ron Chernow: Hamilton pushed for a powerful president — and for impeachment powers," 21 Oct. 2019

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

1585, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for despot

Middle French despote, from Greek despotēs master, lord, autocrat, from des- (akin to domos house) + -potēs (akin to posis husband); akin to Sanskrit dampati lord of the house — more at dome, potent

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Time Traveler for despot

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The first known use of despot was in 1585

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Last Updated

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Despot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce despot (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of despot

: a ruler who has total power and who often uses that power in cruel and unfair ways
formal : a person who has a lot of power over other people


des·​pot | \ ˈde-spət How to pronounce despot (audio) \

Kids Definition of despot

: a ruler having absolute power and authority and especially one who rules cruelly

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More from Merriam-Webster on despot

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for despot

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with despot

Spanish Central: Translation of despot

Nglish: Translation of despot for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of despot for Arabic Speakers

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