mo·nop·o·ly | \mə-ˈnä-p(ə-)lē \
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.

Examples of monopoly in a Sentence

The government passed laws intended to break up monopolies.

Recent Examples on the Web

Sherry Pierce’s husband, Gary was then serving as a Corporation Commissioner, and his duties included setting rates and policies for Johnson Utilities and other regulated monopolies in the state. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "Bribery trial involving Johnson Utilities, Corporation Commission in jurors' hands," 29 June 2018 Christ Hospital officials have argued that St. Elizabeth, as Northern Kentucky’s primary health care provider, operates as a monopoly and needs the competition in surgery services. Anne Saker,, "Judge blocks Christ Hospital's efforts to expand in Northern Kentucky," 23 June 2018 One German official called it a monopoly, and another official wondered if the company needed to be broken up. Cecilia Kang, New York Times, "Cecilia’s Week in Tech: It’s G.D.P.R. Day!," 25 May 2018 The idea originated in the United States during the Progressive Era, as reformers sought democratic solutions to the problems caused by the rapid industrialization, monopolies, and political corruption of the 1890s through the 1920s. David Dayen, The New Republic, "How a pot crisis restarted a conversation about public banking in America," 27 Apr. 2018 Sovereignty means that the state has a monopoly on legitimate violence, and that violence is an exception and not a rule. Jennifer Day,, "Timothy Snyder on 'The Road to Unfreedom'," 4 Apr. 2018 This would violate antitrust law and create a monopoly in 18 markets. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "A year after 7-Eleven announced a Houston comeback, still no movement," 14 Mar. 2018 Providing a copyright monopoly in the phrase would prevent others from sharing the idea that players play and haters hate. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "Taylor Swift Lawyers Seek Dismissal of 3LW 'Playas Gon Play' Lawsuit," 4 Jan. 2018 The company traces its history back to Standard Oil, the name oil titan John D. Rockefeller gave to his powerful monopoly to signify control, order and uniform quality. Bradley Olson, WSJ, "Exxon, Once a ‘Perfect Machine,’ Is Running Dry," 13 July 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for monopoly

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for monopoly

The first known use of monopoly was in 1534

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English Language Learners Definition of monopoly

: complete control of the entire supply of goods or of a service in a certain area or market

: a large company that has a monopoly

: complete ownership or control of something


mo·nop·o·ly | \mə-ˈnä-pə-lē \
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 The laws are intended to prevent monopolies.

3 : complete ownership or control of something He thinks he has a monopoly on the truth.


mo·nop·o·ly | \mə-ˈnä-pə-lē \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on monopoly

Spanish Central: Translation of monopoly

Nglish: Translation of monopoly for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on monopoly

What made you want to look up monopoly? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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