om·​buds·​man | \ ˈäm-ˌbu̇dz-mən How to pronounce ombudsman (audio) , ˈȯm-, -bədz-, -ˌman; äm-ˈbu̇dz-, ȯm- \
plural ombudsmen\ ˈäm-​ˌbu̇dz-​mən How to pronounce ombudsman (audio) , ˈȯm-​ , -​bədz-​ ; äm-​ˈbu̇dz-​ , ȯm-​ \

Definition of ombudsman

1 : a government official (as in Sweden or New Zealand) appointed to receive and investigate complaints made by individuals against abuses or capricious acts of public officials The town's ombudsman said he would look into charges of corruption.
2 : one that investigates, reports on, and helps settle complaints An ombudsman will deal with complaints from the hospital's patients and staff.

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Other Words from ombudsman

ombudsmanship \ ˈäm-​ˌbu̇dz-​mən-​ˌship How to pronounce ombudsman (audio) , ˈȯm-​ , -​bədz-​ , -​ˌman-​ ; äm-​ˈbu̇dz-​ , ȯm-​ \ noun

Did You Know?

Ombudsman was borrowed from Swedish, where it means "representative," and ultimately derives from the Old Norse words umboth ("commission") and mathr ("man"). In the early 1800s, Sweden became the first country to appoint an independent official known as an ombudsman to investigate complaints against government officials and agencies. Since then, other countries (such as Finland, Denmark, and New Zealand), as well as some U.S. states, have appointed similar officials. The word ombudsman was first used in English in the late 1950s; by the 1960s, it was also being used to refer to a person who reviews complaints against an organization (such as a school or hospital) or to someone who enforces standards of journalistic ethics at a newspaper.

Examples of ombudsman in a Sentence

The insurance company's ombudsman was able to resolve the problem. The town's ombudsman said he would look into charges of corruption.
Recent Examples on the Web Michigan’s ombudsman stands in stark contrast to Illinois, which in 2014 created the Office of the Independent Juvenile Ombudsman. Jodi S. Cohen, ProPublica, "Judges Are Locking Up Children for Noncriminal Offenses Like Repeatedly Disobeying Their Parents and Skipping School," 22 Dec. 2020 As a result, the average coverage for a full-time ombudsman statewide was more than 4,100 residents. Tim Evans, The Indianapolis Star, "Five ways to fix Indiana's broken nursing home system," 23 Jan. 2021 Barry Zulauf, an intelligence ombudsman, issued a report earlier in January warning politics affected intelligence assessments on Russian and Chinese meddling efforts in 2020. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "Biden spy chief nominee acknowledges US stance toward China must 'evolve' from Obama years," 19 Jan. 2021 The Department of Corrections would not answer questions about its stance on an ombudsman. Shannon Heffernan, ProPublica, "The Way Prisoners Flag Guard Abuse, Inadequate Health Care and Unsanitary Conditions Is Broken," 2 Dec. 2020 Joani Latimer, Virginia’s long-term-care ombudsman, said her office has been concerned by Portopiccolo’s pattern of buying facilities with low CMS ratings. Washington Post, "An investment firm snapped up nursing homes during the pandemic. Chaos followed.," 9 Sep. 2020 Those conditions include incorporate the agreements for the conservation easement and a monitoring program using an ombudsman. Tom Sissom, Arkansas Online, "Washington County planners table quarry expansion," 12 Dec. 2020 Juveniles locked up at any of Illinois’ five state-run facilities can call the ombudsman’s office at any hour of the day by dialing a four-digit code. Jodi S. Cohen, ProPublica, "Judges Are Locking Up Children for Noncriminal Offenses Like Repeatedly Disobeying Their Parents and Skipping School," 22 Dec. 2020 Steele, the long-term care ombudsman, said the state could do more, citing an analysis that showed that about a quarter of facilities with the coronavirus had 10 or more cases of the disease. oregonlive, "Senior care deaths soar as Oregon readies for a tough winter," 16 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ombudsman.' 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 ombudsman

1959, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ombudsman

Swedish, literally, representative, from Old Norse umbothsmathr, from umboth commission + mathr man

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The first known use of ombudsman was in 1959

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Last Updated

17 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ombudsman.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of ombudsman

: a person (such as a government official or an employee) who investigates complaints and tries to deal with problems fairly

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Nglish: Translation of ombudsman for Spanish Speakers

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