tyranny

noun
tyr·​an·​ny | \ ˈtir-ə-nē How to pronounce tyranny (audio) \
plural tyrannies

Definition of tyranny

1 : oppressive power every form of tyranny over the mind of man— Thomas Jefferson especially : oppressive power exerted by government the tyranny of a police state
2a : a government in which absolute power is vested in a single ruler especially : one characteristic of an ancient Greek city-state
b : the office, authority, and administration of a tyrant
3 : a rigorous condition imposed by some outside agency or force living under the tyranny of the clock— Dixon Wecter
4 : an oppressive, harsh, or unjust act : a tyrannical act workers who had suffered tyrannies

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Examples of tyranny in a Sentence

Cars freed Americans, already infamous for their mobility, from the tyranny of train schedules. — Cynthia Crossen, Wall Street Journal, 7 May 2003 Berlin remains a central attraction, and the evanescence of tyranny is a highlight of the visit. — William F. Buckley, Jr., National Review, 27 Sept. 1999 For in creating a cultural orthodoxy designed to combat racism, urban disorder, and a legacy of oppression, we subject ourselves to delusional dogma, the tyranny of conformity, and language that rings of fascist imagery. — Gerald Early, Harper's, January 1997 The refugees were fleeing tyranny. He was dedicated to ending the tyranny of slavery. a nation ruled by tyranny She felt lost in the bureaucratic tyrannies of the university system. The king sought an absolute tyranny over the colonies.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Supporters of the Castro tyranny claim the players are stuck because of the U.S. embargo. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Baseball Teams Up With Castro," 30 Dec. 2018 This is the tyranny of small differences, and neither choice will solve our national immigration dilemmas. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Phony Shutdown War," 23 Dec. 2018 Social media platforms have become de facto governments while retaining all of their private powers, which is why people who are perma-banned always cry tyranny. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "Death of a provocateur," 30 Nov. 2018 The Framers had seen in their own time that tyranny resulted when the same person or institution held the power both to make laws and to enforce them. Peter J. Wallison, WSJ, "The Supreme Court May Begin to Tame the Administrative State," 13 Dec. 2018 Beneath the rhetorical veneer of consumer empowerment one finds the petty tyranny of choice: freedom is reduced to deciding which app to trust with your dearest information. Jacob Silverman, Longreads, "Private Telegram, Public Strife," 3 July 2018 Credit: Lyft The second update aims to sidestep the tyranny of the rating system. James Vincent, The Verge, "Lyft adds driver-friendly features including default tipping option," 15 Nov. 2018 To hell with the aesthetic tyranny of chilly modernism! Kelsey Keith, Curbed, "The inaugural monthly column from Curbed’s editor-in-chief turns an eye to Postmodernism, following the loss of Robert Venturi," 24 Sep. 2018 Laws— good or bad—are able to upend the tyranny of individual choice and impose collective action from the outside. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Driving Without a Smartphone," 10 July 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tyranny

Middle English tyrannie, from Middle French, from Medieval Latin tyrannia, from Latin tyrannus tyrant

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Statistics for tyranny

Last Updated

27 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for tyranny

The first known use of tyranny was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for tyranny

tyranny

noun

English Language Learners Definition of tyranny

: cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others
: a government in which all power belongs to one person : the rule or authority of a tyrant

tyranny

noun
tyr·​an·​ny | \ ˈtir-ə-nē How to pronounce tyranny (audio) \
plural tyrannies

Kids Definition of tyranny

1 : an act or the pattern of harsh, cruel, and unfair control over other people
2 : a government in which all power is in the hands of a single ruler

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Comments on tyranny

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