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 ombudsmen (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 ombudsmanship (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

The extent of the graft was laid bare in separate probes conducted by the nation’s graft ombudsman, a group of leading academics and panels of lawmakers. Michael Cohen,, "South Africa Faces Long Haul to Roll Back Scourge of Corruption," 5 June 2018 Seth Frotman will be stepping down as student loan ombudsman at the end of the week, according to his resignation letter , which was obtained by The Associated Press. Ken Sweet, The Seattle Times, "APNewsBreak: Nation’s top student loan official resigns," 28 Aug. 2018 The Honduran congress, his own party, the Supreme Court, the national ombudsman and the Catholic Church opposed his power grab. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Caravan to Nowhere," 22 Oct. 2018 Tackling corruption Investigations by the nation’s graft ombudsman and Auditor-General found that graft is endemic in the state, with tens of billions of rand stolen or squandered each year. Michael Cohen,, "The Biggest Headaches for South Africa's Incoming President," 15 Feb. 2018 Rodriguez Aguilera was a social worker for Miami-Dade County before becoming an ombudsman in the county manager’s office. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "Florida House candidate who claims she was abducted by aliens endorsed by major newspaper," 21 Aug. 2018 Seth Frotman will be stepping down as student loan ombudsman in protest at the end of the week, according to his resignation letter. Ken Sweet, The Seattle Times, "APNewsBreak: Nation’s top student loan official resigns," 28 Aug. 2018 The ombudsman's report found all three allegations to be justified, the report said. Annie Zak, Anchorage Daily News, "Backlog and communication problems: Investigation finds issues with Alaska’s Division of Public Assistance," 9 May 2018 As an ombudsman, Mr. Getler could be critical of his colleagues. Sam Roberts, New York Times, "Michael Getler, Journalist Turned Watchdog of the Press, Dies at 82," 15 Mar. 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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Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for ombudsman

The first known use of ombudsman was in 1959

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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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ombudsman

Spanish Central: Translation of ombudsman

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

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