po·​ten·​tate | \ ˈpō-tᵊn-ˌtāt How to pronounce potentate (audio) \

Definition of potentate

: ruler, sovereign broadly : one who wields great power or sway

Synonyms for potentate


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Potentate has been wielding its power in English since the 15th century. It comes from the Late Latin potentatus, which in turn was formed from the Latin potent-, meaning "powerful." Other descendants of potent- in English include potent itself, impotent, and omnipotent, as well as the archaic armipotent and very rare bellipotent (meaning, respectively, "mighty in battle" and "mighty in war"). Even power and powerful can be traced back to potent-.

Examples of potentate in a Sentence

Charles inherited the position of potentate of the Holy Roman Empire from his grandfather, as well that of king of Spain from his father.
Recent Examples on the Web By no means does Roberts dismiss altogether the severity of Stalin’s crimes, but there appears to be a vocational affinity nevertheless between the respectable English scholar and the murderous Soviet potentate. Algis Valiunas, National Review, 31 Mar. 2022 General Douglas MacArthur, the hero of the Pacific theatre and the American potentate of Japanese reconstruction, exuded far more gravitas than the President—and everyone knew it. Beverly Gage, The New Yorker, 7 Mar. 2022 But like any self-respecting potentate, King Tucker manifested no mercy. Washington Post, 7 Jan. 2022 Another Muslim potentate, the Aga Khan, is among the largest thoroughbred breeders and owners in France, where racing remains super populaire. William Finnegan, The New Yorker, 15 May 2021 That 1988 film cast Murphy as Prince Akeem, the wealthy potentate of the fictional African nation of Zamunda, who travels incognito to New York with his faithful attendant, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), in search of a woman who will love him for himself. New York Times, 24 Feb. 2021 If not a foreign potentate, then the guy in charge of delivering the mail. Rich Lowry, National Review, 18 Aug. 2020 So her grandson, Glynn Praesel, took the idea to Marty Bartlett, potentate of Alzafar Shriners, and from there, a man’s wish to make his grandmother smile for her birthday evolved. Elizabeth Zavala, ExpressNews.com, 26 Apr. 2020 As with the region’s other long-serving potentates, stability has been a cornerstone of Mr. Rohman’s political image. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, 2 Apr. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of potentate

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of potentate was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Potentate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/potentate. Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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