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 Similar protests have shaken Iraq and Lebanon but, lacking a single despot on whom to focus their ire, failed to alter their complex, sectarian political systems. New York Times, "A Decade After the Arab Spring, Autocrats Still Rule the Mideast," 14 Feb. 2021 These atrocities alone should inspire global support for the Belarusian people in their quest to jettison a despot, who's been supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who sees the former Soviet republic as Russia's sphere of influence. Editorial Board Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "False election claims erode U.S. credibility," 8 Dec. 2020 The victorious war has made a public hero of Azerbaijan’s hereditary despot, Ilham Aliyev. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, "On Russia's flank, a small war heralds big changes," 30 Nov. 2020 Espy was scrutinized for a questionable lobbying contract with an African despot. Luke Ramseth, USA TODAY, "Mike Espy’s Senate race in Mississippi is getting a fresh look from Democrats, including Barack Obama. Here’s why," 24 Oct. 2020 On the non-reformist side, the things that have led people to call him a brutal despot. CBS News, ""Blood and Oil" coauthors on Mohammed bin Salman and the future of Saudi Arabia," 14 Oct. 2020 On the one hand, Putin cannot allow a despot to be overthrown in his sphere of influence, lest Russians be inspired to do the same. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "Exclusive: ‘I call myself a symbol of freedom’: Belarusian leader in exile motivates protesters," 30 Sep. 2020 National security has been the basis for the rise of perhaps every despot in history. Anupam Chander, Wired, "Trump’s TikTok Farce Ignores the Lessons of the Red Scare," 21 Sep. 2020 The series is set in an alternate DC universe where Superman becomes a despot following the Joker’s murder of Lois Lane, with Batman leading a group of other heroes to stop him. Graeme Mcmillan, The Hollywood Reporter, "Writer Tom Taylor Unveils DC's 'Injustice: Year Zero'," 4 Aug. 2020

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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Last Updated

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Despot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for despot



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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