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

For the President of the United States to send that signal to a North Korean general struck many people as odd at best, and insulting at worst, to the tens of thousands of North Koreans who have struggled under Kim's dictatorship. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "What was Donald Trump thinking when he saluted a North Korean general?," 14 June 2018 Players were also banned from playing abroad, while those already at teams in former colonial master Belgium were expensively repatriated under the dictatorship of leopard skin wearing dictator President Mobutu Sese Seko. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 11 Weeks to Go - Broken Promises, a Dictator & the Tragedy of Zaire 1974," 7 Apr. 2018 Before 2016, socialist was a kind of political slur, evoking cruel dictatorships where the government controlled the economy. Rebecca Nelson, Marie Claire, "Party Crashers: These Female Candidates Are Shaking Up The Midterms," 2 Nov. 2018 In 2004, a left-leaning prime minister introduced the first legislation to take on the legacy of the war and dictatorship. Matías Costa, Smithsonian, "The Battle Over the Memory of the Spanish Civil War," 28 June 2018 No one knows how the armed forces would respond to an imposition of dictatorship. The Economist, "Time is running out for Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega," 9 June 2018 Democracy may be under siege worldwide but recent elections in Latin America, which came out of a period of military dictatorship only three decades ago, show there may be no turning back. The Christian Science Monitor, "An election so normal it’s a benchmark," 4 Apr. 2018 Last month President Michel Temer put the military in charge of Rio de Janeiro’s security forces, the first move of its kind since the end of Brazil’s dictatorship. David Biller, Bloomberg.com, "People Are Ready to Buy Some Guns in the World’s Murder Capital," 20 Mar. 2018 The head of the bank said in September that the dictatorships in Havana and Caracas have outstanding loans of $1 billion and both are in arrears. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Bolsonaro’s Hope and Change," 29 Oct. 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

5 Jan 2019

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 person who helps groups work together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Liar, Liar Quiz

  • alt-5761dbe2ba986
  • Someone who pretends to be sick in order to avoid work is a:
True or False

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

Dictionary Devil

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!