dic·​ta·​tor | \ ˈdik-ˌtā-tər How to pronounce dictator (audio) , dik-ˈtā-\

Definition of dictator

1a : a person granted absolute emergency power especially, history : one appointed by the senate (see senate sense 1a) of ancient Rome
b : one holding complete autocratic control : a person with unlimited governmental power
c : one ruling in an absolute (see absolute sense 2) and often oppressive way fascist dictators
2 : 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)

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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

This column continues to doubt that President Trump can persuade North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to dismantle his nuclear weapons program, but remains eager to be proven wrong. James Freeman, WSJ, "What Does Kim Want?," 28 Feb. 2019 Potomac Watch Podcast Around the country rich and poor used the anniversary of the 1958 fall of military dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez to call for a return to democracy. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Revolt in Venezuela," 23 Jan. 2019 But this was a country that was under a brutal dictator, and then was not. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Memo from a ‘Facebook nation’ to Mark Zuckerberg: You moved fast and broke our country.," 26 Nov. 2018 Since 1981, Mubarak had ruled Egypt as a military dictator, with broad arrest powers and a record of police-state torture. Erick Trickey, chicagotribune.com, "When Hitler met Hoover: 9 instances of dictators scoring presidential face time," 10 June 2018 Since 1981, Mubarak had ruled Egypt as a military dictator, with broad arrest powers and a record of police-state torture. Erick Trickey, Washington Post, "When Hitler met Hoover: 9 photos of dictators scoring presidential face time," 10 June 2018 Once, in 1996 the former soldier ruled the country briefly as a military dictator. Rebecca Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "Turner rules out partnering with HISD on struggling schools," 18 Apr. 2018 But the North Korean dictator did not meet with Pompeo during his visit this month, viewed widely by foreign affairs analysts as an intentional slight given that the two had met on Pompeo's two previous visits to Pyongyang. David Nakamura, chicagotribune.com, "Trump releases 'nice note' from Kim Jong Un praising progress despite setbacks in talks," 12 July 2018 On an Instagram video that went viral, a South Korean man could be heard shouting to the dictator: Saranghaeyo. Victoria Kim, latimes.com, "I grew up in striking distance of North Korea’s artillery. Covering Kim's summit with Trump was sobering and personal.," 13 June 2018

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

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

History and Etymology for dictator

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.

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Statistics for dictator

Last Updated

6 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for dictator

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

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More Definitions for dictator



English Language Learners Definition of dictator

: a person who rules a country with total authority and often in a cruel or brutal way


dic·​ta·​tor | \ ˈdik-ˌtā-tər How to pronounce dictator (audio) \

Kids Definition of dictator

: a person who rules with total power and often in a cruel manner

Other Words from dictator

dictatorship \ dik-​ˈtā-​tər-​ˌship \ noun

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Comments on dictator

What made you want to look up dictator? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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