tyr·​an·​ny ˈtir-ə-nē How to pronounce tyranny (audio)
plural tyrannies
: oppressive power
every form of tyranny over the mind of manThomas Jefferson
especially : oppressive power exerted by government
the tyranny of a police state
: a government in which absolute power is vested in a single ruler
especially : one characteristic of an ancient Greek city-state
: the office, authority, and administration of a tyrant
: a rigorous condition imposed by some outside agency or force
living under the tyranny of the clockDixon Wecter
: an oppressive, harsh, or unjust act : a tyrannical act
workers who had suffered tyrannies

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Damian here with a look at a biotech deal with a lengthy backstory, the tyranny of gas prices, and the latest shakeup at BIO. advertisement The need-to-know this morning Arvinas licensed an experimental drug for prostate cancer to Novartis. Damian Garde, STAT, 11 Apr. 2024 On the one hand, much of the subjects’ rhetoric, and even their trainings and meetings, can seem like cosplay—big talk about tyranny, treason, and constitutionality, and posturing that’s largely symbolic. Sarah Larson, The New Yorker, 2 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for tyranny 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tyranny.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near tyranny

Cite this Entry

“Tyranny.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tyranny. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


tyr·​an·​ny ˈtir-ə-nē How to pronounce tyranny (audio)
plural tyrannies
: a government in which all power is in the hands of a single ruler
: harsh, cruel, and severe government or conduct
: a tyrannical act

More from Merriam-Webster on tyranny

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