robber baron


: an American capitalist of the latter part of the 19th century who became wealthy through exploitation (as of natural resources, governmental influence, or low wage scales)
: a business owner or executive who acquires wealth through ethically questionable tactics

Examples of robber baron in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Russell represents a cartoon version of a Gilded Age robber baron, both in his laughably broad characterization and in his almost cuddly fatherly energy. Phillip MacIak, The New Republic, 1 Nov. 2023 The trustees—the same robber barons, or their representatives—would run the trust, deciding how to operate all these different, nominally competing railroads to maximize the return to the trustees (the railroads’ former owners). Cory Doctorow, WIRED, 7 Sep. 2023 This country didn’t invent trains, but regards them as wholly American, from the plundering railroad robber barons of the Gilded Age to the notion that steel and steam can master a continent, no matter who or what had to give way. Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 7 July 2023 Consider the Gilded Age robber baron Daniel Drew, one of that era’s outstanding stock manipulators and con men, who rarely missed a Sunday in church or was seen in public without a well-thumbed prayer book in hand. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2022 The house is a 21st-century version of a Fifth Avenue robber baron mansion: enormous and in your face. Mark Rozzo, Town & Country, 2 Apr. 2023 The hotel was named for Collis Huntington, one of the Big Four railroad tycoons often derided as robber barons. Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle, 20 Mar. 2023 In addition, a host of fictional stock characters swarm the narrative—among them a loathsome private eye, an anarchist zealot and the aforementioned power-mad robber baron who manipulates Rye into snitching on the Wobblies in order to save his beloved brother. Maureen Corrigan, WSJ, 23 Oct. 2020 It’s led to a lot of discourse about whether Nook — who is a tanuki, a fox-like animal native to East Asia and a trickster figure in Japanese myth — is a capitalist robber baron exploiting both the player and the island’s resources, or just an entrepreneur trying to eke out a living. Whizy Kim,, 6 Aug. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'robber baron.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1878, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of robber baron was in 1878

Dictionary Entries Near robber baron

Cite this Entry

“Robber baron.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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