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

Examples of kleptocracy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Russia is becoming a kleptocracy, with Putin cannibalizing the entire productive economy to fund his whims. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Fortune, 20 Dec. 2023 Since the mid-2000s, shelves of academic research have been generated that study Russian kleptocracy, the idea that Russia is ruled by a clique of people primarily interested in illicitly extracting wealth from the state and the economy. Sam Greene, Foreign Affairs, 22 Sep. 2023 Now, López Obrador is taking the country down a familiar path, not to a strong, healthy democracy but to a lawless, corrupt kleptocracy, supported by people who should know better. Denise Dresser, Foreign Affairs, 21 Oct. 2022 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 Alexander Dziadosz, Harper's Magazine, 27 Oct. 2020 But rather than imposing this outdated Cold War choice, Washington and its allies should instead focus on expanding their efforts to counter the creeping spread of kleptocracy on the continent.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 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 28 Feb. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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