mo·​nop·​o·​ly | \ mə-ˈnä-p(ə-)lē How to pronounce monopoly (audio) \
plural monopolies

Definition of monopoly

1 : exclusive ownership through legal privilege, command of supply, or concerted action
2 : exclusive possession or control no country has a monopoly on morality or truth— Helen M. Lynd
3 : a commodity controlled by one party had a monopoly on flint from their quarries— Barbara A. Leitch
4 : one that has a monopoly The government passed laws intended to break up monopolies.

Did you know?

You're probably familiar with the word monopoly, but you may not recognize its conceptual and linguistic relative, the much rarer oligopsony. Both monopoly and oligopsony are ultimately from Greek, although monopoly passed through Latin before being adopted into English. Monopoly comes from the Greek prefix mono-, which means "one," and pōlein, "to sell." Oligopsony derives from the combining form olig-, meaning "few," and the Greek noun opsōnia—"the purchase of victuals"—which is ultimately from the combination of opson, "food," and ōneisthai, "to buy." It makes sense, then, that oligopsony refers to a buyer's market in which the seller is subjected to the potential demands of a limited pool of buyers. Another related word is monopsony, used for a more extreme oligopsony in which there is only a single buyer.

Examples of monopoly in a Sentence

The government passed laws intended to break up monopolies.
Recent Examples on the Web The Digital Markets Act has several serious ramifications for Apple, such as unpicking its App Store monopoly to allow side-loading for the first time, but it’s the impact on iMessage that will hit hardest. Zak Doffman, Forbes, 9 Apr. 2022 If a monopoly is a market with one dominant seller, a monopsony is its inverse, a market where one buyer is pre-eminent. Christopher Mims, WSJ, 29 Jan. 2022 This government monopoly — while not always popular with consumers — is legal under the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which ended Prohibition and gave states control of alcohol sales and distribution. Kathy Stephenson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 Sep. 2021 But the ultimate outcome was a settlement that allowed SpaceX to begin bidding on military launches and break ULA’s monopoly in 2015. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, 19 Aug. 2021 But why break up a monopoly that charges consumers nothing at all?, 29 June 2021 The article, written by Fudan University professor Sun Lijian and others, called on China to use the digital yuan to break the US dollar's monopoly. Li pushed back against that idea. Laura He, CNN, 19 Apr. 2021 Critics of Eversource Energy on Monday called for a new business model that would break up the familiar regulated monopoly and replace it with a more nimble, accountable and affordable utility. Stephen Singer,, 24 Aug. 2020 In other words, baseball can behave as a monopoly and not be called out for it. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 12 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'monopoly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of monopoly

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for monopoly

Latin monopolium, from Greek monopōlion, from mon- + pōlein to sell

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The first known use of monopoly was in 1534

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Last Updated

8 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Monopoly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for monopoly


mo·​nop·​o·​ly | \ mə-ˈnä-pə-lē How to pronounce monopoly (audio) \
plural monopolies

Kids Definition of monopoly

1 : complete ownership or control of the entire supply of goods or a service in a certain market
2 : a person or group having complete control over something
3 : complete ownership or control of something He thinks he has a monopoly on the truth.


mo·​nop·​o·​ly | \ mə-ˈnä-pə-lē How to pronounce monopoly (audio) \
plural monopolies

Legal Definition of monopoly

1 : exclusive control of a particular market that is marked by the power to control prices and exclude competition and that especially is developed willfully rather than as the result of superior products or skill — see also antitrust, Sherman Antitrust Act
2 : one that has a monopoly

More from Merriam-Webster on monopoly

Nglish: Translation of monopoly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of monopoly for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about monopoly


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