strong·​man | \ ˈstrȯŋ-ˌman \

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

While López Obrador summons the nation-building legacies of pioneering Mexican leaders like Benito Juárez and Lázaro Cárdenas, his critics cast him in line with Venezuela's late Hugo Chávez and populist strongmen further to the south. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Mexico’s presidential frontrunner is promising a revolution. Can he deliver?," 29 June 2018 Winner: Chechnya Special mention also goes to Chechnya, a Russian region headed by strongman and Putin-devotee Ramzan Kadyrov. Ian Bremmer, Time, "The World Cup’s Biggest Winners and Losers So Far—Both On and Off the Field," 29 June 2018 The second is that the reversals have been driven by opportunistic strongmen rather than the voters’ embrace of illiberal ideology. The Economist, "Lessons from the rise of strongmen in weak states," 14 June 2018 Guatemala was long familiar with rule by military strongmen and human rights abuses. John Otis,, "Efrain Rios Montt, 91, Guatemalan dictator convicted of genocide," 1 Apr. 2018 After the carpenter Alfredo Peluso publicly criticizes local strongman Don Achille Carracci (by yelling about him in the street), Carracci drags him out of a funeral and slams him against a wall. Anna North, Vox, "My Brilliant Friend pulls back the curtain on women’s lives. What it reveals is dark and violent.," 20 Nov. 2018 Sri Lanka has been engulfed in turmoil since President Maithripala Sirisena dismissed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last month and replaced him with ex-strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa. Bharatha Mallawarachi, The Seattle Times, "Deputy minister resigns as Sri Lanka political crisis grows," 6 Nov. 2018 Democracy has been eroded in the Philippines by the strongman tendencies of its popularly elected leader Rodrigo Duterte; Thailand has been under military rule since 2014, and elections next year are unlikely to end the army's sway over politics. Matthew Pennington, Fox News, "Malaysia, Cambodia offer 2 Asian narratives of change at UN," 27 Sep. 2018 Egypt has become more sophisticated and ambitious in its online censorship as its current strongman, President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, consolidates power. Jared Malsin, WSJ, "Throughout Middle East, the Web Is Being Walled Off," 18 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

19 Dec 2018

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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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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

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