strong·​man | \ˈstrȯŋ-ˌman \

Definition of strongman 

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

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

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cemented himself as the strongman of Turkey, after his coalition won presidential and parliamentary elections that will extend his powers and possibly his rule for as long as a decade. Billy Perrigo, Time, "What Erdogan’s Election Victory Means For Turkey’s Future," 25 June 2018 Among those instincts could be warm feelings about strongmen and an inbred hunch that allies are actually taking advantage of America. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Does it matter if Trump has a North Korea strategy?," 14 June 2018 The divide is also philosophical: Trump's weakness for strongmen and disdain for multilateral diplomacy cuts against the liberal international principles of the West. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Trump flips US foreign policy upside down," 7 June 2018 For a decade and a half, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has increasingly governed as a strongman, first as prime minister and then, since 2014, as head of state. New York Times, "Turkey’s Election: What to Watch For," 24 June 2018 For a decade and a half, Erdogan has increasingly governed as a strongman, first as prime minister and then, since 2014, as head of state. Iliana Magra,, "Stakes high in Turkish election, for Erdogan and the country," 23 June 2018 That is the truest manifestation of the American spirit, and it’s been subverted in this century by a powermad strongman and his idiot minions who think crushing the poor and the vulnerable is some kind of punk move. Drew Magary, GQ, "There Is Bravery in Each Other," 3 July 2018 Maldives, known for its high-end tourist resorts, became a multiparty democracy in 2008, ending Gayoom’s 30-year strongman rule. Washington Post, "US ‘deeply dismayed’ over Maldives prison sentences," 15 June 2018 Maldives became a multiparty democracy in 2008, ending Gayoom's 30-year strongman rule. Fox News, "Maldives ex-strongman sentenced to 19 months in jail," 13 June 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

7 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for strongman

The first known use of strongman was in 1859

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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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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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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