ty·​ran·​ni·​cal | \ tə-ˈra-ni-kəl How to pronounce tyrannical (audio) , tī- \
variants: or less commonly tyrannic \ tə-​ˈra-​nik How to pronounce tyrannic (audio) , tī-​ \

Definition of tyrannical

: being or characteristic of a tyrant or tyranny : despotic tyrannical rule a tyrannical ruler

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tyrannical

tyrannically \ tə-​ˈra-​ni-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce tyrannically (audio) , tī-​ \ adverb
tyrannicalness \ tə-​ˈra-​ni-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce tyrannicalness (audio) , tī-​ \ noun

Examples of tyrannical in a Sentence

Everyone was afraid of their overbearing and tyrannical boss. a tyrannical ruler whose terrible reign was marked by unceasing violence
Recent Examples on the Web Katniss Everdeen, played by Lawrence in the films as a young woman from the impoverished District 12 who survived the games and fought to overthrow this tyrannical regime, was the focus of Collins' earlier books. Nick Romano, EW.com, "Hunger Games prequel movie officially in the works with Mockingjay director," 21 Apr. 2020 Culinary memoirs tend to follow templates — the life-altering bite; the singed forearms at the hands of a tyrannical kitchen overlord — so to find one with a truly distinct perspective is thrilling. Lisa Abend, New York Times, "Kitchen Confidential: Three Culinary Memoirs," 1 May 2020 The notion that some citizens don’t share the same constitutional rights as others is by definition tyrannical. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "Quarantine Protesters Are No Heroes of Civil Disobedience," 22 Apr. 2020 His anti-heroes often capitulate to the tyrannical forces around them, whether those forces are bureaucratic or familial. Jeremy Lybarger, The New York Review of Books, "The Mordant Fables of Juraj Herz," 20 Apr. 2020 In the divisive age of the 1 percent against the other 99, this cautionary fable unravels the tyrannical hypocrisy of the haves and the embittered outrage of the have-nots. Peter Marks, Washington Post, "‘Timon of Athens’ is tricky Shakespeare. A fearless director gets it right.," 25 Feb. 2020 Hardliners here argue that letting up pressure now would only reward tyrannical governments for creating impoverished societies vulnerable to the pandemic. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "The moral calculus of sanctions amid coronavirus crisis," 30 Mar. 2020 His tyrannical rule is tempered only by Robin Hood, with a little help from his band of merry men. The Economist, "Watchdogs without bite Why Britain’s police commissioners are not living up to their promise," 12 Mar. 2020 Two decades after his death, his legacy lives on in the aspirations of young Afghans and world powers who echo him saying the time for tyrannical rule is over. Amrullah Saleh, Time, "I Fought the Taliban. Now I'm Ready to Meet Them at the Ballot Box.," 28 Feb. 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tyrannical

Latin tyrannicus, from Greek tyrannikos, from tyrannos tyrant

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tyrannical

Time Traveler for tyrannical

Time Traveler

The first known use of tyrannical was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for tyrannical

Last Updated

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tyrannical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tyrannical. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tyrannical


How to pronounce tyrannical (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tyrannical

: using power over people in a way that is cruel and unfair


ty·​ran·​ni·​cal | \ tə-ˈra-ni-kəl How to pronounce tyrannical (audio) \

Kids Definition of tyrannical

: relating to or like that of tyranny or a tyrant tyrannical acts

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on tyrannical

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!