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 The musician has accused Museveni of being a dictator responsible for human rights abuses, after at least 45 people were killed in protests last month sparked by the arrest of Wine for contravening Covid-19 regulations at a campaign rally. Jonny Hallam, CNN, "Uganda's Bobi Wine says his bodyguard was 'deliberately' run over and killed," 27 Dec. 2020 Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani has falsely claimed that Smartmatic was founded in Venezuela by former dictator Hugo Chavez for the goal of fixing elections. David Bauder, Anchorage Daily News, "Fox, Newsmax shoot down their own claims on election," 22 Dec. 2020 Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani has falsely claimed that Smartmatic was founded in Venezuela by former dictator Hugo Chavez for the goal of fixing elections. David Bauder, USA TODAY, "Fox News, Newsmax shoot down their own aired claims on election after threat of legal action," 22 Dec. 2020 During her tenure, notably supported designating a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent slain dictator Moammar Gadhafi from killing some of his own people. Julia Musto, Fox News, "Biden considers Samantha Power for USAID: Report," 14 Dec. 2020 Contrary to his depictions by critics, Mr. Trump has not been a would-be dictator or abuser of the Constitution. Ted Van Dyk, WSJ, "Can Biden Restrain His Party’s Left?," 22 Oct. 2020 At first, Nigerians were elated, if surprised: President Buhari, a former military dictator who in the 1980s imposed corporal punishment for minor infractions like jumping the line at bus stops, had caved to public pressure over policing. Samuel Fury Childs Daly, The Conversation, "Nigerians got their abusive SARS police force abolished – but elation soon turned to frustration," 8 Dec. 2020 Former Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s four-week shutdown of bars and restaurants in August spurred upheaval as groups protested him near-weekly at Assembly meetings, calling him fascist and a dictator. Aubrey Wieber, Anchorage Daily News, "Governor’s outreach director urges people to go out and ‘party like it’s New Year’s Eve’ before Anchorage closes bars," 1 Dec. 2020 Four years after the Obama Justice Department misled a federal court into approving a surveillance warrant against a Trump campaign associate, Mr. Obama is comparing President Donald Trump to a murderous dictator. James Freeman, WSJ, "Another Obama Lecture," 16 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for dictator

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dictator.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dictator. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for dictator


How to pronounce dictator (audio)

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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