dic·​ta·​tor | \ˈdik-ˌtā-tər, dik-ˈ\

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 bold move comes a month after President Trump met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in an effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Russian military planes violate South Korean air defense zone four times, report says," 13 July 2018 The intervention meant that the United States would be married to the confusion that followed the downfall of the Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. William Langewiesche, The Atlantic, "An Extraordinarily Expensive Way to Fight ISIS," 21 June 2018 For now, though, in the week following Trump’s summit with the North Korean dictator, the real estate fervor had cooled. Victoria Kim, latimes.com, "An unexpected consequence of the thaw between the two Koreas: a budding real estate boom along the DMZ," 20 June 2018 Some worry that the Central American country is heading down the same path as Venezuela, where a dictator refuses to bend as his country is battered by an economic and humanitarian crisis. Ciara Nugent, Time, "Clinging to Power Amid Violent Protests, Nicaragua’s President Faces a Crisis Point," 14 June 2018 The problem with Trump’s flattery of Kim is the same as Reagan’s acclamation of Montt: a dictator was praised for no good reason. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "A brief history of American presidents praising dictators.," 12 June 2018 Most of us were not naive enough to believe that Trump could rein in a third-generation dictator such as Kim. Dahleen Glanton, chicagotribune.com, "Even Trump's opponents need him to succeed in North Korea," 11 June 2018 Maybe a hitherto brutal dictator is looking for the survival strategy that Mr. Trump has offered. Tony Abbott, WSJ, "An Ally Sizes Up Donald Trump," 13 July 2018 Fresh flowers and roses adorned Franco’s tomb, a gray slab of concrete on the floor ringed by black marble: a tribute to one of the 20th century’s most notorious dictators. Joseph Zeballos-roig, The New Republic, "How to Dig Up a Dictator," 11 July 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

7 Nov 2018

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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 \

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).


playful or foolish behavior

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