des·​pot | \ˈdes-pət, -ˌpät\

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

Together, the parts of Ms. Backström’s show serve as powerful analogues for our own era of refugees and migrants moving across a globe ravaged by despots, war and ecological disaster. Roberta Smith, Will Heinrich, Martha Schwendener And Jason Farago, New York Times, "What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week," 29 Mar. 2018 America has been the world’s policeman, the guarantor of a modicum of restraint from the world’s despots and fanatics. Tony Abbott, WSJ, "An Ally Sizes Up Donald Trump," 13 July 2018 The two sides have been negotiating over the North’s nuclear-weapons programme since 1992, when Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of the current despot, Kim Jong Un, was in power (see timeline). The Economist, "Talks between America and North Korea might succeed—at a terrible price," 7 June 2018 At a minimum, the Politico story will undercut any effort by Garrett to depict himself as a humble public servant his own self — instead of a petty despot who humiliates kids. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Embattled Congressman Accused of Turning Staff Into His Personal Servants," 25 May 2018 Dealing with a despot requires diplomacy—and diplomats. The Economist, "Talks with North KoreaTreat Kim Jong Un’s nuclear offer with caution," 8 Mar. 2018 The day after July 4 – a celebration of the founding fathers’ rejection of despots — Trump again praised Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Trudy Rubin,, "NATO allies fear Trump will kick them, hug Putin | Trudy Rubin," 6 July 2018 Stephen Greenblatt examines tyranny through close readings of Shakespeare’s greatest despots. Time Staff, Time, "Best Nonfiction Books of 2018 So Far," 11 June 2018 Former workers said that Mr. Meier — a winner of the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s top award, and the designer of notable buildings like the Getty Center in Los Angeles — ruled like a despot. Robin Pogrebin, New York Times, "Women Say Richard Meier’s Conduct Was Widely Known Yet Went Unchecked," 5 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for despot

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for despot

The first known use of despot was in 1585

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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

: a person who has a lot of power over other people


des·​pot | \ˈde-spət \

Kids Definition of despot

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

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