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

Definition of potentate

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

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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 If not a foreign potentate, then the guy in charge of delivering the mail. Rich Lowry, National Review, "The Post Office Hysteria," 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, "San Antonio area Alzafar Shriners take parade, personalities to retirement community in Boerne," 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, "‘The Fields Heal Everyone’: Post-Soviet Leaders’ Coronavirus Denial," 2 Apr. 2020 From Jordan’s Abdullah to Egypt’s Sadat, peace-minded potentates were slain. Josef Joffe, WSJ, "‘Black Wave’ Review: Islam Against Itself," 27 Jan. 2020 As the world’s oldest and largest management consulting firm, McKinsey has advised a long list of corporate giants, princes and potentates. azcentral, "UA's $14-million gamble: Consultant gave pricey advice to devise strategic plan," 9 Nov. 2019 Everywhere, pilfering potentates and their progeny must be nervous. The Economist, "How to hide a billion dollars," 10 Oct. 2019 Halpert was an art impresario, and discovering Harnett and Peto in the 1940s puts her on a parallel track with the Hollywood potentates who discovered Robert Mitchum, Lana Turner, and John Garfield. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Edith Halpert and American Modernism," 14 Dec. 2019 One particularly unstable potentate, Siraj ud-Daulah, Nawab of Bengal, alienated his bankers, the Jagat Seths, and demanded foreign merchants dismantle their walls, which were erected mostly to defend against other European companies. Iain Murray, National Review, "The Rise of the East India Company Is Not a Cautionary Tale about Corporate Power," 2 Nov. 2019

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.

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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 2 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of potentate

literary : a powerful ruler

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