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

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 For months and months the country’s dictator has been built up not only as a domestic superhero, but as an international statesman of genius. The Economist, "In its trade war with America, China dials down the hype," 12 July 2018 Advertisement Nicolae Ceausescu Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu rides in the state carriage with Queen Elizabeth II on his official visit to Britain on June 13, 1978. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "5 World Leaders Whose Visits to the U.K. Sparked Controversy," 12 July 2018 In November 2003, President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush embarked on a three-day state visit to Britain, just months after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown. Jennifer Hassan, Washington Post, "From effigies to egging: The British have a long history of dissing U.S. presidents," 11 July 2018 Members of the group have been implicated in the deaths of Americans and thousands of Iranians, primarily in the 1980s when the neo-Marxist group was allied with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the war between Baghdad and Tehran. chicagotribune.com, "Giuliani works for foreign clients while serving as Trump's attorney," 10 July 2018 Both were intended for North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un. Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, "Mike Pompeo Giving Kim Jong Un ‘Rocket Man’ CD Signed by Trump, South Korean Paper Reports," 7 July 2018 Further afield, an international coalition led by US president George H.W. Bush repulsed the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Jonathan Bradley, Billboard, "Dream Up the World You're Gonna Live In: How U2's 'Zooropa' Got the Future Wrong, 25 Years Later," 5 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

10 Oct 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

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one that holds something together

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