klep·​toc·​ra·​cy klep-ˈtä-krə-sē How to pronounce kleptocracy (audio)
plural kleptocracies
: government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed
also : a particular government of this kind
kleptocrat noun
kleptocratic adjective

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Former leaders in France, Italy, and South Korea have all faced criminal charges in recent years without those countries devolving into anarchy or kleptocracy. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 4 Apr. 2023 In the case of Russia, Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine has evinced that his military’s prowess, his territorial expansionist dream to further recreate the Soviet Union westward, and his nation-building model of a kleptocracy based on natural resource rents are bankrupt. Harry G. Broadman, Forbes, 1 June 2022 Protesters not only called for removing President Michel Aoun, a former warlord ruling in coalition with Hezbollah, but demanded a wholesale replacement of the entrenched kleptocracy that has run the country since its civil war ended three decades ago. Alexander Dziadosz, Harper's Magazine, 27 Oct. 2020 But rather than imposing this outdated Cold War choice, Washington and its allies should instead focus on expanding their efforts to counter the creeping spread of kleptocracy on the continent. Time, 8 Apr. 2022 This meant a loss of tens of millions of dollars, as the impact of sanctions rippled across a hidden corner of what critics call Russia’s kleptocracy. Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2021 In the post, which cost Shor’s party less than $100 to upload, the oligarch accuses Sandu’s government of corruption and kleptocracy. David Klepper, Fortune, 17 Feb. 2023 But make no mistake: Putin and his allies favor kleptocracy. Time, 8 Apr. 2022 The free flow of money has enabled kleptocracy and corrupt influence; the growth of trade has not made dictatorships more like democracies but allowed dictatorships to have leverage over democracies. Peter Pomerantsev, Time, 21 Dec. 2022 See More

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

Word History


klepto- + -cracy

First Known Use

1819, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of kleptocracy was in 1819

Dictionary Entries Near kleptocracy

Cite this Entry

“Kleptocracy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kleptocracy. Accessed 7 Jun. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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