ombudsman

noun
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 Amy Smith, the property's director of nursing, wrote to the state's long-term care ombudsman on Dec. 3. Arkansas Online, "Suit takes issue with state veto of licenses," 29 Dec. 2019 The California Department of Public Health does not track where nursing homes discharge patients, according to a department spokesman, nor does the California long-term care ombudsman program. Katie Engelhart, NBC News, "Some nursing homes are illegally evicting elderly and disabled residents who can't afford to pay," 29 Nov. 2019 The public defender’s office and the ombudsman’s office also reported 30 people injured, but said the circumstances of the deaths and injuries hadn’t been determined. Washington Post, "At least 3 killed in violence near Bolivian fuel plant," 20 Nov. 2019 At least five people died in the violence, according to Bolivia’s ombudsman’s office. Anatoly Kurmanaev, New York Times, "Ethnic Rifts in Bolivia Burst Into View With Fall of Evo Morales," 15 Nov. 2019 The public ombudsman’s office said Sunday that seven people had died in the protests, 1,340 had been hurt and 1,152 arrested. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Ecuador crisis weakens president, strengthens indigenous," 14 Oct. 2019 The public ombudsman’s office said Sunday that seven people had died in the protests, 1,340 had been hurt and 1,152 arrested. BostonGlobe.com, "QUITO, Ecuador — Residents of Ecuador’s capital picked their way through piles of burnt tires and chunks of pavement Sunday as the government and indigenous protesters headed to negotiations aimed at defusing more than a week of demonstrations that have paralyzed the nation’s economy.," 14 Oct. 2019 California’s long-term care ombudsmen received 1,404 complaints about nursing home evictions in 2018, up from 1,022 in 2014. Katie Engelhart, NBC News, "Some nursing homes are illegally evicting elderly and disabled residents who can't afford to pay," 29 Nov. 2019 Last fall, the mayor appointed an ombudsman to handle internal complaints and bring temporary stability to the agency. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "SFMTA’s new leader: Board selects transportation consultant Jeffrey Tumlin," 13 Nov. 2019

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

10 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ombudsman.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ombudsman. Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for ombudsman

ombudsman

noun
How to pronounce ombudsman (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on ombudsman

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ombudsman

Spanish Central: Translation of ombudsman

Nglish: Translation of ombudsman for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ombudsman for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ombudsman

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