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 person who investigates, reports on, and helps settle complaints : an individual usually affiliated with an organization or business who serves as an advocate for patients, consumers, employees, etc. The insurance company's ombudsman was able to resolve the problem. Become a certified volunteer ombudsman, a trained advocate for residents of nursing and rest homes. — classified advertisement in The Montague (Massachusetts) Reporter At their best, some HMOs offer special programs for Medicare members, screening them for illnesses after they join, directing them to preventive services, keeping track of the drugs they take, and making ombudsmen available to coordinate care and answer questions.Consumer Reports About 30 newspapers now also have ombudsmen—men and women who write regular columns criticizing (and responding to reader's complaints about) their own newspapers.— David Shaw After insisting for years that citizen oversight of the Sacramento County sheriff was unnecessary and undoable, the department's top brass has shifted to calling it inevitable. But what form the new watchdog might take—a commission, an ombudsman, a squad of civil rights lawyers—is hard to predict.— Dorothy Korber and Christina Jewett Bee
2 : 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 Since 1962 the public has been able to have grievances about the conduct of government organisations investigated by a small department of ombudsmen headed by a Parliamentary Commissioner. This is a Scandinavian innovation which has been adapted to New Zealand's needs.About New Zealand President Marcos has managed to evade, for the moment, the problem of what to do about the … findings on the murder of the opposition leader Benigno Aquino. To the disgust of the opposition and much of the press, he has turned the entire matter over to the Philippines' ombudsman.The Economist

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"). 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 also designates 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 Post was unable to independently verify this claim, or another from Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman who said this week that Russia had taken more than 300 Mariupol civilians, including 90 children, to Russia. Washington Post, 24 Apr. 2022 Ukraine's human-rights ombudsman said that the four were badly burned when Russian troops fired light and noise grenades and mortars at a pro-Ukraine demonstration. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 3 Apr. 2022 According to Constant, a section of municipal code specifies that the Assembly itself hears appeals regarding public record denials from the municipal clerk’s office or ombudsman’s office concerning municipal government or utilities. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, 5 Feb. 2022 The central government has attempted to temper their concerns with pledges of full transparency, announcements of plans for an internal probe by the country’s intelligence agency, and a separate investigation by Spain’s ombudsman. NBC News, 2 May 2022 The independent ombudsman will serve for two years, but the term can be renewed. Christopher Keating, Hartford Courant, 29 Apr. 2022 After retiring from Detroit, Eddings became Macomb County’s first ombudsman and worked there for about a year. Brendel Hightower, Detroit Free Press, 22 Apr. 2022 The Carolina Ramírez is just as brutal, the ombudsman says. New York Times, 20 Apr. 2022 Ruto said some of the proposals, including creating more positions at the top, wouldn’t necessarily foster national cohesion while introducing a judicial ombudsman would infringe on the independence of the judiciary. David Herbling,, 31 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of ombudsman

1831, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for ombudsman

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

Learn More About ombudsman

Time Traveler for ombudsman

Time Traveler

The first known use of ombudsman was in 1831

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About ombudsman

Dictionary Entries Near ombudsman




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for ombudsman

Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ombudsman.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on ombudsman

Nglish: Translation of ombudsman for Spanish Speakers

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

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!