noun, often capitalized
pha·​raoh | \ ˈfer-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce pharaoh (audio) , ˈfā-(ˌ)rō How to pronounce pharaoh (audio) \

Definition of pharaoh

1 : a ruler of ancient Egypt
2 : tyrant

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of pharaoh in a Sentence

like some pharaoh of a third-world country, more interested in building monuments to himself than in creating a future for his people
Recent Examples on the Web Moving the mummies has reignited talk of a pharaoh's curse, particularly on social media, after the ship blocked the Suez Canal, a train crash killed dozens late last month and a building collapsed in central Cairo. NBC News, "Myth of 'pharaoh's curse' dismissed as Egypt parades ancient mummies," 3 Apr. 2021 Researchers have reconstructed the face of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who may have been King Tutankhamun’s father, Akhenaten. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Is This the Face of King Tut’s Father, Pharaoh Akhenaten?," 29 Mar. 2021 The Egyptian pharaoh Senausert III, who reigned from 1887 to 1849 B.C., is credited with first digging the canal. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "How That Massive Ship Got Stuck in the Suez Canal—and Why Nobody Can Get It Out," 25 Mar. 2021 Some prominent parts of the seder include acknowledging each of the plagues God set on the Egyptians when the pharaoh refused to free the Israelites, and reflecting on what each item on the seder plate symbolizes. Kelsey Hurwitz, Woman's Day, "Passover Traditions That Truly Set the Holiday Apart," 12 Jan. 2021 Maybe that explains why Amenhotep II, a pharaoh who ruled Egypt from about 1426 to 1400 B.C., was eager to brag about his rowing prowess. New York Times, "Rowing the Nile: A Soothing Respite in a Chaotic Metropolis," 2 Jan. 2021 As the story goes, there is a particularly brutal pharaoh in charge in Egypt and all Jews are systemically enslaved. Kelsey Hurwitz, Woman's Day, "What Is Passover? Everything You Need to Know About the Spring Festival," 15 Dec. 2020 As the new pharaoh was so young, his mother, Thutmose IV’s second wife Queen Mutemwiya, acted as regent. National Geographic, "King Tut's grandparents were Egypt's royal power couple," 17 Sep. 2020 The pharaoh included his wife in government affairs, both domestic and international. National Geographic, "King Tut's grandparents were Egypt's royal power couple," 17 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pharaoh.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of pharaoh

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pharaoh

Middle English pharao, from Old English, from Late Latin pharaon-, pharao, from Greek pharaō, from Hebrew parʽōh, from Egyptian pr-ʽʾ̹

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pharaoh

Time Traveler for pharaoh

Time Traveler

The first known use of pharaoh was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for pharaoh

Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pharaoh.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pharaoh



English Language Learners Definition of pharaoh

: a ruler of ancient Egypt


noun, often capitalized
pha·​raoh | \ ˈfer-ō How to pronounce pharaoh (audio) \

Kids Definition of pharaoh

: a ruler of ancient Egypt

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on pharaoh

What made you want to look up pharaoh? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!