the·​oc·​ra·​cy | \ thē-ˈä-krə-sē How to pronounce theocracy (audio) \
plural theocracies

Definition of theocracy

1 : government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided
2 : a state governed by a theocracy

Examples of theocracy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The show stars Elisabeth Moss as the novel’s narrator and protagonist, Offred, a woman stripped of her job, her family, and her name in a near-future American theocracy called Gilead. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, "Margaret Atwood Expands the World of “The Handmaid’s Tale”," 5 Sep. 2019 In her landmark 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, a totalitarian theocracy has taken over the U.S. in the midst of a fertility crisis. Time, "The Handmaid's Tale Was a Warning. Three Decades Later, Margaret Atwood Is Back With Another," 3 Sep. 2019 Britain’s unwritten political order, as the writer George Orwell noted, has always cherished eccentricity; in many other democracies, a formal, constitutional right to free speech reflects long struggles against authoritarianism and theocracy. The Economist, "Blasphemy laws are quietly vanishing in liberal democracies," 25 Aug. 2019 June is a handmaid in a dystopian theocracy that uses fertile women as commodities for child-bearing. Teghan Simonton, USA Today, "The Handmaid's Tale rides the political wave around women's rights — and contributes.," 13 Aug. 2019 Despite being heralded as a new, accessible civilian face in a Shiite theocracy that is now 40 years old, Jahromi’s past as an intelligence officer has raised political concern. Washington Post, "AP Interview: Rising Iran politician has intelligence ties," 10 July 2019 Rouhani, still viewed inside Iran as a relatively moderate cleric in the country's Shiite theocracy, has taken an increasingly hard-line tone in his remarks to the West. Jon Gambrell,, "Iran will increase uranium enrichment to ‘any amount that we want,’ president says," 3 July 2019 Iran’s fragile theocracy can’t absorb a massive external shock. Reuel Marc Gerecht And Ray Takeyh, WSJ, "America Can Face Down a Fragile Iran," 16 June 2019 Both brands are bottled by local firms, Khoshgovar Mashhad Co. for Coca-Cola and Sasan Co. and Neysun Shargh Co. for Pepsi, which are affiliated with the Imam Reza Foundation, an economic conglomerate tied to the country's Shiite theocracy. Jon Gambrell,, "From hot sauce to pop gloss, U.S. products seep into Iran," 11 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'theocracy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of theocracy

1622, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for theocracy

Greek theokratia, from the- + -kratia -cracy

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about theocracy

Statistics for theocracy

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for theocracy

The first known use of theocracy was in 1622

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for theocracy



English Language Learners Definition of theocracy

: a form of government in which a country is ruled by religious leaders
: a country that is ruled by religious leaders

More from Merriam-Webster on theocracy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with theocracy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for theocracy Encyclopedia article about theocracy

Comments on theocracy

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


to make a temporary encampment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!