ombudsman

noun
om·​buds·​man | \ˈäm-ˌbu̇dz-mən, ˈȯm-, -bədz-, -ˌman;äm-ˈbu̇dz-, ȯm-\
plural ombudsmen\ ˈäm-​ˌbu̇dz-​mən , 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 , 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

The story, touted by the ombudsman’s office as a victory, has an odd sort of happy ending. Leonid Ragozin, Bloomberg.com, "When Russian Officials ‘Nightmare’ Your Business, You Can Lose Everything—Even Your Life," 29 Jan. 2018 The ombudsman was the point of contact between the submariners and their significant others, while the boat was underway. Brenna Bailey, azcentral, "Trust, brotherhood and pink underwear: USS Phoenix submarine vets reflect on life at sea," 27 June 2018 The agency had agreed earlier this month to appoint a tenant ombudsman to oversee mold repairs. Luis FerrÉ-sadurnÍ, New York Times, "Judge Orders New Lead Inspections in New York Public Housing," 17 Apr. 2018 As written, the ordinance would allow someone making an internal-affairs complaint through the police ombudsman’s office to ask that the complaint not be posted online. Rachel Alexander, The Seattle Times, "Spokane police chief against posting full internal investigations, body-camera video online," 9 July 2018 The former graft ombudsman’s report on the Guptas’ influence over government. Bloomberg.com, "How South Africa Is Cleaning House After Zuma’s Eviction," 21 Apr. 2018 Patty Ducayet, the long-term care ombudsman in Texas, said that disputes over whether a particular nursing home can meet a patient's needs are common. Author: Tara Siegel Bernard, Robert Pear, Anchorage Daily News, "The nursing home said she had to go. To a homeless shelter.," 22 Feb. 2018 The Finnish equality ombudsman investigated SuperShe for discrimination. The Economist, "Women-only clubs get a makeover," 28 June 2018 Contact their workplace harassment counselor or the department's Equal Employment Opportunity Office File a grievance, go to internal affairs, contact the civil service ombudsman, contact the federal EEOC office, or go to the courts. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Female officers face widespread sexual harassment in Michigan's prison system," 21 Apr. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near ombudsman

ombrophobe

ombrophobous

ombu

ombudsman

ombudsperson

ombudswoman

omdeh

Statistics for ombudsman

Last Updated

17 Oct 2018

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The first known use of ombudsman was in 1959

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More Definitions for ombudsman

ombudsman

noun

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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