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 1b) 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)

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 If that name sounds familiar, it’s because his dad was a brutal dictator in the Philippines during the 1970s and ’80s who stole billions of dollars from the country before being deposed in a popular uprising. Ky Henderson, Rolling Stone, 9 May 2022 Lukashenko, long described as Europe’s last dictator, responded to Western sanctions by further yoking the Belarusian state to neighboring Russia. Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2022 Their content argues that the West is to blame for the war, that Russia has legitimate territorial claims to parts of Ukraine, that Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is a murderous dictator and that the Russian invasion was defensive. New York Times, 31 Mar. 2022 But the ideal advisor isn’t a dictator, a salesperson, a judge, or even a professor on a pedestal. Tim Maurer, Forbes, 12 Sep. 2021 Cooperatives like this were banned in the days of dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Apr. 2022 The congressmen had traveled to Moscow in hopes of seeing the reclusive dictator, who agreed to meet the delegation but not before having the NKVD ply them with large quantities of tea spiked with vodka. A. Wess Mitchell, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2022 This is one of the costs of nuclear fear: depending on a dictator to keep your lights on. Washington Post, 28 Apr. 2022 The 15th-century palazzo is where the dictator Benito Mussolini delivered some of his notable speeches. Livia Borghese, CNN, 27 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Dictator.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dictator. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for dictator


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

More from Merriam-Webster on dictator

Nglish: Translation of dictator for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dictator for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dictator


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