plu·​toc·​ra·​cy | \plü-ˈtä-krə-sē \
plural plutocracies

Definition of plutocracy 

1 : government by the wealthy

2 : a controlling class of the wealthy

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Other Words from plutocracy

plutocrat \ˈplü-​tə-​ˌkrat \ noun
plutocratic \ˌplü-​tə-​ˈkra-​tik \ adjective
plutocratically \ˌplü-​tə-​ˈkra-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Did You Know?

Ploutos was Greek for "wealth", and Plouton, or Pluto, was one of the names used for the Greek god of the underworld, where all the earth's mineral wealth was stored. So a plutocracy governs or wields power through its money. The economic growth in the U.S. in the late 19th century produced a group of enormously wealthy plutocrats. Huge companies like John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil gained serious political power, and Rockefeller was able to influence lawmakers in states where his businesses operated. For this reason, it was said in 1905 that Ohio and New Jersey were plutocracies, not democracies.

Examples of plutocracy in a Sentence

If only the wealthy can afford to run for public office, are we more a plutocracy than a democracy? corporate greed and America's growing plutocracy

Recent Examples on the Web

The Roosevelts saved America from plutocracy and created a golden age for the middle class. Robert D. Atkinson, The New Republic, "The Myth of the Roosevelt “Trustbusters”," 4 May 2018 Mueller’s father was an executive at DuPont, part of a family firmly planted in the country’s plutocracy. Marc Fisher, Washington Post, "Mueller and Trump: Born to wealth, raised to lead. Then, sharply different choices.," 23 Feb. 2018 And there are those who believe plutocracy is nothing new; America has always been ruled by an elite class, but through the decades she has marched, slow and steady, toward inclusiveness. Time, "Democrats Say Citizens United Should Die. Here’s Why That Won’t Happen," 31 Aug. 2017 Disturbed by vanishing jobs, rising plutocracies, melting polar ice caps, not to mention numerous other serious threats to a good night's sleep and a reasonable life for future generations? Deanna Isaacs, Chicago Reader, "Open University of the Left is free, liberal, and necessary," 22 June 2017 But the MID isn’t just a symbol of housing policy falling prey to plutocracy. Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, "The Shame of the Mortgage-Interest Deduction," 14 May 2017 Some of these cities are becoming hubs of the global plutocracy. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, "Does Creativity Breed Inequality in Cities?," 28 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plutocracy.' 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 plutocracy

1631, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for plutocracy

Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; akin to Greek plein to sail, float — more at flow

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The first known use of plutocracy was in 1631

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English Language Learners Definition of plutocracy

: government by the richest people

: a country that is ruled by the richest people

: a group of very rich people who have a lot of power

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Spanish Central: Translation of plutocracy

Nglish: Translation of plutocracy for Spanish Speakers

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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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