strong·​man | \ ˈstrȯŋ-ˌman How to pronounce strongman (audio) \

Definition of strongman

: one who leads or controls by force of will and character or by military methods

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Examples of strongman in a Sentence

a Latin-American strongman who basically treated his nation's coffers as his personal bank account

Recent Examples on the Web

Egypt soccer star Mohamed Salah has been criticized after accompanying Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov to a Gronzy, Russia, stadium where Salah and the rest of his teammates were training for the World Cup on Sunday. Chuck Schilken,, "Soccer stars Salah, Ozil and Gundogan receive backlash over photos with political figures," 13 June 2018 And he is enamored of strongmen like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Mattis’s resignation was a scathing indictment of Trump’s foreign policy," 21 Dec. 2018 Some of the worst massacres in modern history have followed the ouster of strongmen. James Stavridis, Time, "Democracy Isn't Perfect, But It Will Still Prevail," 12 July 2018 At Northern Neck, Manafort will await trial for charges including acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian strongman Viktor Yanukovych. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Inside the Jail Where Former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort Is Being Held," 17 June 2018 There’s much to worry about in the Trump approach to the world—a troubling affinity for strongmen, a fixation on tariffs and bilateral trade deficits, a transactional approach to global challenges. Gerard Baker, WSJ, "As Europe Condemns Trump, Asia Takes a More Realistic View," 22 Feb. 2019 Meles Zenawi, who ruled as a strongman from 1995 to 2012, was stern and cerebral. The Economist, "Ethiopia’s new prime minister wants peace and privatisation," 7 June 2018 Trump has a history of speaking kindly about dictators and strongmen, more broadly. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Trump says he and Kim Jong Un “fell in love” over denuclearization letters," 30 Sep. 2018 History indicates that bouts of hyperinflation can be hazardous to the health of dictators and strongmen, leading to revolutions, coups and other forms of ouster. Anthony Faiola, The Seattle Times, "Venezuela’s inflation rate may hit 1,000,000 percent," 24 July 2018

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

1859, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for strongman

Last Updated

25 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for strongman

The first known use of strongman was in 1859

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More Definitions for strongman



English Language Learners Definition of strongman

: a politician or leader who uses violence or threats
: a man who performs in a circus and who is very strong

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More from Merriam-Webster on strongman

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with strongman

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for strongman

Britannica English: Translation of strongman for Arabic Speakers

Comments on strongman

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


a secret plot to overthrow a government

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