dic·​ta·​tor·​ship | \dik-ˈtā-tər-ˌship, ˈdik-ˌ\

Definition of dictatorship 

1 : the office of dictator

2 : autocratic rule, control, or leadership people suffering under his dictatorship

3a : a form of government in which absolute power is concentrated in a dictator or a small clique Communism and dictatorship

b : a government organization or group in which absolute power is so concentrated rising up against a military dictatorship

c : a despotic state establishing a dictatorship

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of dictatorship in a Sentence

The country suffered for many years under his dictatorship. His enemies accused him of establishing a dictatorship.

Recent Examples on the Web

Soon, the Burmese dictatorship put her under house arrest. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "Horror in Burma," 13 Feb. 2018 Likewise, Fidel Castro’s Communist Cuba imposed its own form of Latin dictatorship, while Mexico was in the grip of one-party rule by the ideologically nebulous Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Ioan Grillo, The New Republic, "When Democracy Isn’t Enough," 6 June 2018 Fela Kuti, the pioneer of the Afrobeat genre, was famous for his political activism during the country's era of military dictatorships. Joey Akan, CNN, "From Chibok Girls to Yahoo Boys, 'This is Nigeria' video is a mirror for the country," 28 May 2018 For us, the end of the dictatorship is the only way. Vivienne Walt, Time, "Meet 4 Crusaders Who Are Keeping the Dream of Democracy Alive," 12 July 2018 There were calls for civil disobedience and concerns about America slipping toward dictatorship. Shane Goldmacher, New York Times, "Schumer Misses Town Hall in Brooklyn, but Still Feels the Heat," 3 July 2018 Both my father and my grandfather had been imprisoned by Tito’s communist dictatorship in Yugoslavia. Al Saracevic, SFChronicle.com, "In this case, it’s OK to root for a team," 30 June 2018 Mencius Moldbug, who talks about having a global patchwork of small city states, which would be essentially corporate shareholder dictatorships. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Corey Pein, author of ‘Live Work Work Work Die,’ on Recode Decode," 13 June 2018 Destiny does not face off against free will, while franchise flagships like democracy-vs.-dictatorship and the tragedies of war merit muted mentions at best. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Solo film review: Best when it embraces its favorite action-movie urges," 24 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dictatorship.' 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 dictatorship

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dictatorship

dictator + -ship, as translation of Latin dictātūra

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dictatorship

Share dictatorship

Statistics for dictatorship

Last Updated

26 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dictatorship

The first known use of dictatorship was in 1542

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dictatorship



English Language Learners Definition of dictatorship

: rule by a dictator : rule, control, or leadership by one person with total power

: a government or country in which total power is held by a dictator or a small group

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on dictatorship

What made you want to look up dictatorship? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a trusted follower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
True or False

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


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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