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 At the beginning of June, the Army kicks off 10 days in Normandy to commemorate perhaps the most iconic military maneuver in modern history: the day America and her Allies stormed the beaches of France with the aim of freeing Europe from Nazi tyranny. William A. Ryan, Chicago Tribune, 2 June 2024 On one level, D-Day and NATO are inspiring bookends: the first, a nostalgic commemoration of the Allied victory over Nazi tyranny; the second, a 75th birthday party for the alliance that grew out of the ashes of World War II. Mark Landler, New York Times, 2 June 2024 The idea is to help shoppers escape what psychologists call the tyranny of choice, which can paralyze consumers and lead them to leave a store having bought nothing. Phil Wahba, Fortune, 28 May 2024 Ignoring or neglecting this right can open the gate to tyranny. Hasan Zillur Rahim, The Mercury News, 25 May 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 17 Jun. 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

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