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)

Keep scrolling for more

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 In a statement given to the Arizona Mirror, Logan stood by the document and the assertions in it, among them, the false claim that Dominion Voting Systems has links to the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. CBS News, "The Arizona GOP's Maricopa County audit: What to know about it," 9 May 2021 Before the Libyan uprising 10 years ago against the dictator Moammar Gaddafi, the Kanis were largely unknown. Washington Post, "Mass murder and the sin of silence," 8 May 2021 In 2011, after the toppling of the dictator Muammar Qaddafi, the number of migrants using Libya as a departure point for Europe increased significantly, because people-smuggling networks could now operate there without constraint. Ian Urbina, The Atlantic, "Purgatory at Sea," 6 May 2021 Few thought that North Korea would be subjected to a third Kim — a grandson of the founding dictator, Kim Il-sung. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "The second Castro goes, &c.," 30 Apr. 2021 Experts say the unexpected coup by the Chadian rebels offers a stark example of how the decade-old power vacuum in Libya, starting with the ouster of the dictator Col. New York Times, "Where Did Chad Rebels Prepare for Their Own War? In Libya.," 22 Apr. 2021 Antonio Castro, a son of the late dictator Fidel Castro, is the vice president of the Cuban Baseball Federation. WSJ, "MLB Hypocrisy and the Racist Castro Regime," 18 Apr. 2021 When Chavez won, the opposition cried foul and Smartmatic was branded as a tool of the late dictator, despite validation from the Carter Center and Organization of American States. Madeline Berg, Forbes, "This Foreign Voting Machine Company Wants To Take Over America – If It Can Get Through Fox News," 7 Apr. 2021 Still, some Fox News employees elevated false charges that Dominion had changed votes through algorithms in its voting machines that had been created in Venezuela to rig elections for the late dictator Hugo Chavez. Colleen Long, USA TODAY, "Dominion Voting sues Fox for $1.6B over 2020 election claims," 26 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dictator

Time Traveler for dictator

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for dictator

Last Updated

15 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dictator.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dictator. Accessed 17 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!