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

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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 Dancers clad in glittering costumes shimmied to samba music despite the Spanish flu, both World Wars and a military dictatorship. Ana Ionova, Los Angeles Times, "Rio makes do as Carnival festivities are canceled," 13 Feb. 2021 The abuse led to sweeping calls to reform the national police force, which was never significantly reformed after the dictatorship led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet ended in 1990. Mike Ives, BostonGlobe.com, "Public buildings set ablaze in Chile after police shoot street juggler," 6 Feb. 2021 Gambians may have put an end to Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year dictatorship five years ago but the challenges of building a stable democracy in the country remain. Stephen Kafeero, Quartz Africa, "These are the key African elections to watch in 2021," 13 Jan. 2021 The dictatorship has gone from father to son to grandson. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "How Fares Freedom?," 17 Dec. 2020 The Special Anti-Robbery Squad – the target of protesters’ recent ire – is a federal police force created during Nigeria’s long military dictatorship. Samuel Fury Childs Daly, The Conversation, "Nigerians got their abusive SARS police force abolished – but elation soon turned to frustration," 8 Dec. 2020 The president took over power in 1986 following a bush war and years of political upheaval epitomized by Idi Amin’s bloody military dictatorship in the 1970s. Fred Ojambo, Bloomberg.com, "Ugandan Pop Star Kicks Off Bid to Unseat Veteran President," 3 Nov. 2020 The past six years had seen a number of popular mobilizations against dictatorship, in Ukraine, Nicaragua, Algeria, Sudan, Armenia and Belarus. Francis Fukuyama, WSJ, "Francis Fukuyama on the State of Democracy in 2020 and Beyond," 15 Dec. 2020 Students on campus were one of the few groups of people willing to stage acts of defiance to the military dictatorship, then running the country. The Economist, "Behind the news Here we are again: my mixed feelings about Nigeria’s protests," 30 Oct. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for dictatorship

Time Traveler

The first known use of dictatorship was in 1542

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Statistics for dictatorship

Last Updated

22 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dictatorship.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dictatorship. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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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

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