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)

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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

Mr Maduro, a dictator in charge of a collapsing economy, might. The Economist, "Will Colombia return to war?," 5 Sep. 2019 And not just in the short term: The researchers also looked at delayed growth, testing the hypothesis that reforms put in place by a dictator might take time to bear fruit. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "150 years of data proves it: Strongmen are bad for the economy," 19 Aug. 2019 In my observation, Western leaders often prefer to deal with dictators, rather than with fellow democratic leaders. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "Trust the process, &c.," 29 July 2019 And in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the run-up to the 2018 Winter Games was marked by concerns about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s nuclear saber-rattling. Marisa Guthrie, The Hollywood Reporter, "NBCUniversal Expects to Rake in More Than $1.2B for 2020 Tokyo Olympics," 23 July 2019 In a statement, the North’s Foreign Ministry accused the United States of violating the spirit of negotiations between President Trump and dictator Kim Jong Un by proceeding with military maneuvers scheduled for next month. Washington Post, "North Korea hints it may resume nuclear testing, accuses U.S. of reneging on pact," 18 July 2019 The business took off after the 2011 toppling of Libya’s longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, during the Arab Spring. Abigail Haworth, Marie Claire, "The Lost Daughters of Salerno," 1 July 2019 The dictator had encouraged Iraqis to regard the little emirate much as mainland Chinese view Taiwan: a rogue province that must one day return to the motherland. Bobby Ghosh, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Iraq and Kuwait are beginning a beautiful friendship," 18 Aug. 2019 In the case that Mr. Trudeau got involved in, the company was charged with bribing and defrauding the Libyan government when Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan dictator, was in power. Dan Bilefsky, New York Times, "Trudeau, in Trouble in Much of Canada, Still Has Fans in Quebec," 17 Aug. 2019

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 2019

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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 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

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Comments on dictator

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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