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 Arizona Department of Economic Security keeps a list of other long-term care ombudsman programs in the state: Stephanie Innes, azcentral, "Here's what to do if you suspect a vulnerable adult is being abused in Arizona," 21 Jan. 2020 Brian Bischoff, a Georgia National Guard officer, took the helm as Wisconsin’s new ombudsman for its National Guard. Katelyn Ferral, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Attorney General will review, may reopen botched Wisconsin National Guard sex assault investigations," 20 Jan. 2020 Whatever the case, the underlying disease is highly reminiscent of the experiences of Air Force colonel Ralph Tollefson during the 1980s, when he was appointed to serve as an ersatz taxpayer ombudsman for McDonnell Douglas. Maureen Tkacik, The New Republic, "Boeing Axes CEO as Company Hits New Heights of Self-Denial," 23 Dec. 2019 In addition to the sale of the cottage, here's what the policy calls for, according to the UAW: The establishment of an ethics ombudsman to receive, review and respond to ethics complaints and allegations. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "UAW to sell ex-president's lavish Up North cabin as part of ethics cleanup," 13 Nov. 2019 Brian Bischoff, the ombudsman, at (608) 267-7207 or Katelyn Ferral, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Attorney General will review, may reopen botched Wisconsin National Guard sex assault investigations," 20 Jan. 2020 The public records ombudsman would then review the request, review the records and make a ruling. al, "UAB’s black box: University hides what it pays vendor," 10 Jan. 2020 On July 19th the public protector, an ombudsman, accused Mr Ramaphosa of violating the constitution by deliberately misleading parliament. The Economist, "Another bad week for Cyril Ramaphosa," 25 July 2019 The court quickly agreed to consider their petition as well as two more filed by the country’s human rights ombudsman and a former presidential candidate. Elisabeth Malkin,, "Most migrants at border with Mexico would be denied asylum protections under new Trump rule," 15 July 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

7 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ombudsman.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for ombudsman


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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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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