dic·​ta·​tor·​ship dik-ˈtā-tər-ˌship How to pronounce dictatorship (audio)
: the office of dictator
: autocratic rule, control, or leadership
people suffering under his dictatorship
: a form of government in which absolute power is concentrated in a dictator or a small clique
Communism and dictatorship
: a government organization or group in which absolute power is so concentrated
rising up against a military dictatorship
: a despotic state
establishing a dictatorship

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 Remnants of the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985, police militias were once broadly accepted by authorities as an adjunct to official security forces in the fight against violent criminal gangs. Paulina Villegas, Washington Post, 26 Sep. 2023 The despair that pushed Ms. Negru, a 66-year-old widow, to suicide flowed from forces existing across Eastern Europe — unresolved traumas left by the epochal changes of three decades ago, when Communism gave way to capitalism, and dictatorship to promises of democracy. Andrew Higgins, New York Times, 25 Sep. 2023 Beijing is strengthening Africa’s dictatorships and facilitating backsliding in democracies. Foreign Affairs, 20 Sep. 2023 That referred to a power-sharing arrangement among political elites introduced by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping to restore stability in the aftermath of Chairman Mao Zedong’s turbulent dictatorship. Nectar Gan, CNN, 19 Sep. 2023 Within a few years, neighboring Argentina also fell to a brutal military dictatorship, while other countries including Bolivia and Paraguay followed suit. Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, 29 Aug. 2023 Napoleon was brought to power in France following a coup in the late 18th century, and established a dictatorship soon afterward. Bychloe Taylor, Fortune, 15 Aug. 2023 What will happen to the moneyed interests if BAP gets his military dictatorship, or if Anton’s Red Caesar steps forth? Katherine Stewart, The New Republic, 10 Aug. 2023 Washington helped usher in 17 years of dictatorship under Pinochet. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 12 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dictatorship.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


dictator + -ship, as translation of Latin dictātūra

First Known Use

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dictatorship was in 1542

Dictionary Entries Near dictatorship

Cite this Entry

“Dictatorship.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dictatorship. Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


dic·​ta·​tor·​ship dik-ˈtāt-ər-ˌship How to pronounce dictatorship (audio)
: the office of 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

More from Merriam-Webster on dictatorship

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