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 The framers of the Constitution hated political parties, feared state tyranny, and tried to design Congress and the presidency as checks on each other to prevent those eventualities. Ryan Cooper, TheWeek, "American democracy is dying," 7 Feb. 2020 Bukovsky’s uncompromising views should be seen as a cri de coeur from someone who devoted much of his life to fighting political tyranny. Amy Knight, The New York Review of Books, "The Secret Files of the Soviet Union," 7 Jan. 2020 Hong Kong is becoming more and more like a police state, like a tyranny like Beijing,’’ Leung said. BostonGlobe.com, "Police public relations chief Tse Chun-chung said police intelligence suggested hard-line protesters were inciting others to commit ‘‘extreme acts’’ such as killing police, posing as police officials to kill civilians, and large-scale arson including at gas stations during Tuesday’s holiday.," 1 Oct. 2019 His work fighting the Nazis counted for nothing in this new tyranny. The Economist, "Witold Pilecki is an unsung hero of the second world war," 25 July 2019 The Federalist Society, of which Brett Kavanaugh was once a member, was founded in the early 1980s as a reaction to what conservatives viewed as a tyranny of the liberal federal courts and law schools. Kay Steiger, Vox, "4 winners and 3 losers from Brett Kavanaugh’s many-hour, multi-day confirmation hearings," 7 Sep. 2018 Weird heroes and mold-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of ‘the rat race’ is not yet final. Jordan Runtagh, PEOPLE.com, "The Storming of Area 51: A Covert Journey to the Heart of America’s Worst-Kept Secret," 13 Jan. 2020 The tyranny of the sun’s role in marking midday meant that states had multiple times. Time, "The Day Clocks Changed Across America: What Happened When the U.S. Adopted Standardized Time," 18 Nov. 2019 We were frustrated with the tyranny of this government,’’ said the friend, who wore a mask and didn’t identify himself. BostonGlobe.com, "HONG KONG — Police in Hong Kong said Saturday that they have arrested and charged six pro-democracy lawmakers, a move that could escalate public fury a day after the death of a university student linked to months of antigovernment protests in the semiautonomous Chinese territory.," 10 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for tyranny

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for tyranny

Last Updated

24 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tyranny.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tyranny. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for tyranny

tyranny

noun
How to pronounce tyranny (audio)

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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