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

Trump reminds me in many ways of many African dictators. Brian Flood, Fox News, "Trevor Noah fashions himself a modern Charlie Chaplin, compares Trump to African dictators, Hitler," 10 July 2018 This is standard operating procedure for three generations now of dictators in North Korea. NBC News, "Meet the Press - July 8, 2018," 8 July 2018 Trump later signed a CD with the song on it, asking Pompeo to deliver it to the North Korean dictator. Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, "Mike Pompeo Giving Kim Jong Un ‘Rocket Man’ CD Signed by Trump, South Korean Paper Reports," 7 July 2018 But there is no political rationale that could explain Trump’s decades-long habit of praising the repressive governing style of the world’s dictators. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "The Genesis of Trump’s Family-Separation Policy," 22 June 2018 This is the model of Arab dictators like Gamal Abdel Nasser. The Economist, "Waiting for the backlashCan Muhammad bin Salman’s gamble work?," 21 June 2018 Trump prefers the company of dictators who can flatter and be flattered. George Packer, The New Yorker, "Donald Trump Goes Rogue," 17 June 2018 Silencing reporters and disappearing people were the hallmarks of Latin America’s military dictators. Ioan Grillo, The New Republic, "When Democracy Isn’t Enough," 6 June 2018 But on Friday, Kim Yong Chol, North Korea's former spy chief, will hand deliver a letter from the North Korean dictator to President Trump, a reciprocal message to one Pompeo brought to Pyongyang earlier this month. Margaret Brennan, CBS News, "Future of North Korea summit still unclear despite high-level talks," 31 May 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

12 Sep 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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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