dic·​ta·​tor ˈdik-ˌtā-tər How to pronounce dictator (audio)
: a person granted absolute emergency power
especially, history : one appointed by the senate (see senate sense 1b) of ancient Rome
: one holding complete autocratic control : a person with unlimited governmental power
: one ruling in an absolute (see absolute sense 2) and often oppressive way
fascist dictators
: one who says or reads something for a person to transcribe or for a machine to record : one that dictates (see dictate entry 1 sense 1)

Examples of dictator in a Sentence

The country was ruled by a military dictator. the dictator had a fierce stranglehold on the country, keeping its people in poverty and ignorance
Recent Examples on the Web In the wake of Kissinger’s death, in November 2023, his critics on the left have not been slow to repeat their old list of indictments, ranging from the bombing of civilians in Cambodia to supporting dictators in Chile, Pakistan, and elsewhere. Niall Ferguson, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Tucker Carlson recently visited Russia to interview the country’s president/dictator Vladimir Putin and Jon Stewart has some thoughts. Emily Zemler, Rolling Stone, 20 Feb. 2024 In social media posts Friday, Gunn publicly endorsed an IGN article reporting that Youssef's potential role as dictator Rumaan Harjavti was written out of the upcoming superhero movie before Youssef went viral with a Piers Morgan interview in October. Wesley Stenzel, EW.com, 16 Feb. 2024 Yes to Ukraine, as the US needs to protect countries from dictators like Putin. Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 This has become a new challenge, with, to take one example, Venezuela’s dictator leveraging it to pressure the Biden administration into easing sanctions. Daniel Di Martino, National Review, 14 Feb. 2024 One deepfake in particular, of the late dictator Suharto, went viral, spreading across social media platforms and through chat apps – fueling public debate about the ethics of AI in the election. Kathleen Magramo, CNN, 12 Feb. 2024 By the time Hoffman’s decision came down in January 2017, Nigeria once again had a new president: Muhammadu Buhari, who in the 1980s was the country’s military dictator. Jesse Barron, New York Times, 9 Feb. 2024 In standing by and letting Russia dismember Ukraine, the GOP has sent a message of profound weakness to Putin and his dictator cronies in Beijing, Tehran, and Pyongyang. Trudy Rubin, Twin Cities, 8 Feb. 2024 See More

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

Word History


Middle English dictatour, borrowed from Latin dictātor, from dictāre "to say repeatedly, speak aloud words to be transcribed by another, issue as an order" + -tor, agent suffix — more at dictate entry 1

Note: Though formally a derivative of dictāre, the noun dictātor is attested perhaps two centuries earlier in Latin and may be an independent formation, though the model for it is not clear; the sense "issue as an order" of dictāre may reflect influence of dictātor. The form tictator used in the Old English translation of Orosius's Historiae Adversum Paganos had no subsequent use.

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of dictator was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near dictator

Cite this Entry

“Dictator.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dictator. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


dic·​ta·​tor ˈdik-ˌtāt-ər How to pronounce dictator (audio)
: a person who rules with total authority and often in a cruel or brutal manner
: one that dictates
dictatorialness noun

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