ol·​i·​garch ˈä-lə-ˌgärk How to pronounce oligarch (audio) ˈō- How to pronounce oligarch (audio)
plural oligarchs
: a member or supporter of an oligarchy
in Russia and other countries that succeeded the Soviet Union : one of a class of individuals who through private acquisition of state assets amassed great wealth that is stored especially in foreign accounts and properties and who typically maintain close links to the highest government circles
But what does it really mean to be a Russian oligarch …? … in Russian politics, the term first came about in the 1990s to describe a dozen or so powerful men who amassed immense wealth following the collapse of the Soviet Union.The Business Insider
The task force will pool the resources of the countries' law enforcement divisions to track down the assets of Russian oligarchs stashed overseas, a difficult task complicated by the opaque or complicated financial instruments frequently used by Russian financial elites to hide their holdings from public view.Jeff Stein
… young Armenians, who joined the protests in droves, angry that the same small club of politicians and oligarchs has controlled the country since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.Neil Macfarquhar

Examples of oligarch in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And there have been no new recordings of oligarchs grousing about the war. Mikhail Zygar, Foreign Affairs, 28 June 2024 Amy is a bodyguard, works with billionaires and oligarchs, always on the other side of the world. Lizz Schumer, Peoplemag, 21 June 2024 His government has jailed opposition political leaders, helped friendly oligarchs consolidate control over the press, intimidated the courts, repressed protests, twisted election law, and undermined the independence of the Election Commission. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, 28 May 2024 The oligarchs failed to see the old Soviet ways were still in place, including the state apparatus of murder — both overt and covert. Chris Jones, New York Daily News, 22 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for oligarch 

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

Word History


borrowed from Greek oligárchēs, from olig- olig- + -archēs -arch entry 1, after Greek oligarcheîsthai "to be ruled by an oligarchy," oligarchía oligarchy

First Known Use

circa 1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of oligarch was circa 1610

Dictionary Entries Near oligarch

Cite this Entry

“Oligarch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oligarch. Accessed 14 Jul. 2024.

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