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.

Examples of monopoly in a Sentence

The government passed laws intended to break up monopolies.
Recent Examples on the Web Until the 1990s electricity was a state monopoly in Mexico, mainly in the hands of the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE). The Economist, "A bad energy law says much about Mexico’s president," 13 Mar. 2021 Federal prosecutors are right to ensure unions’ near-monopoly in Philadelphia isn’t enforced by violence and threats. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Philadelphia’s Union Thuggery," 8 Mar. 2021 When considering geographic concentrations, the U.S. begins to approach a chain of monopsonies, which is the buyer’s equivalent of a monopoly. Erik Sherman, Forbes, "The PRO Act Is Becoming Labor’s Amateur Hour," 2 Mar. 2021 The ethically minded consumer’s challenge, increasingly, is to find a way to live without it—the definition of a monopoly, if there ever was one. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, "Amazon Won’t Stop Until It’s Devoured the Economy," 3 Feb. 2021 In recent years, because of the overwhelming popularity of social media, and Facebook’s monopoly in that space, that’s meant that many small businesses depend on Facebook. Dipayan Ghosh, Wired, "Nice Try, Facebook. iOS Changes Aren’t Bad for Small Businesses," 24 Dec. 2020 The suit alleges that the company has abused a monopoly in the markets for online search and search advertising. Brian Fung, CNN, "The antitrust lawsuits against Google just keep coming," 17 Dec. 2020 The suit alleges that Plaid poses a significant threat to Visa in the online debit market, and its purchase would allow Visa to unlawfully maintain a monopoly in that market, thus harming customers by keeping prices high and stymying innovation. Alan Murray, Fortune, "Divided government would be good for business," 6 Nov. 2020 Look, the Wachowskis don’t have a monopoly on simulation theory. Jason Kehe, Wired, "Bliss Is the Worst Kind of Open-Ended Sci-Fi Movie," 5 Feb. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about monopoly

Time Traveler for monopoly

Time Traveler

The first known use of monopoly was in 1534

See more words from the same year

Statistics for monopoly

Last Updated

2 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Monopoly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for monopoly



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 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 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 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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!