dic·​ta·​tor·​ship | \ dik-ˈtā-tər-ˌship How to pronounce dictatorship (audio) , ˈdik-ˌtā- \

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 The firm also served Nigeria, Argentina, and Romania — countries that had dictatorships and image problems. BostonGlobe.com, "Harold Burson, considered a giant in public relations, dies at 98," 12 Jan. 2020 The firm also served Nigeria, Argentina and Romania — countries that had dictatorships and image problems. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Harold Burson, a Giant in Public Relations, Dies at 98," 10 Jan. 2020 The country in north-central Africa is under a dictatorship and is fraught with political turmoil. Tatiana Sanchez, SFChronicle.com, "SF man deported to Chad must return to US, judge says," 6 Jan. 2020 Our oath to the Constitution is what establishes the rule of law and preserves our democracy and what distinguishes us from dictatorships and monarchies. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Trump stood against Russia in the Ukraine; A fair hearing in the Senate is essential for justice (12/19/19)," 18 Dec. 2019 Her mother and father, in their youth, both joined the underground against the dictatorship and did time in prison for their activities. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, "The Fracturing of Brazil in “The Edge of Democracy”," 13 Dec. 2019 Reared on decades of fighting for individual liberty and capitalism against dictatorships and collectivism since the 1930s, their politics moulded by the spectre of Auschwitz and the gulags, such ideological defensiveness is perhaps understandable. The Economist, "Climate, freedom and denial: What “Green Thatcherism” teaches us today," 22 Nov. 2019 But South Korea was a military dictatorship at the time, and many Koreans felt the deal was unfair. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "North Korea and China are huge winners in the worsening Japan-South Korea spat," 23 Aug. 2019 Those movies focus on politics and how a democracy can turn into a dictatorship and fall apart, which Leo finds interesting. High School Journalism Institute, oregonlive.com, "Finding a new hope through space opera," 20 July 2019

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

Time Traveler for dictatorship

Time Traveler

The first known use of dictatorship was in 1542

See more words from the same year

Statistics for dictatorship

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dictatorship.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dictatorship. Accessed 23 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dictatorship


How to pronounce dictatorship (audio)

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).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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!