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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Some of us are anxiously awaiting the photonics revolution, where photons will band together to overthrow the tyranny of electrons. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Wireless nanowire lasers absorb infrared, emit blue light," 1 June 2019 In short, the operatives of one party have, in the past couple of decades, systematically overcome every single barrier erected by the Constitutional Convention against the tyranny of mob or tyrant or foreign potentate. Kevin Baker, Harper's magazine, "The Crisis of Our Constitution," 10 Jan. 2019 Some were vehemently disappointed over her villainous turn, some remained fiercely loyal and excused her acts of violence, others believed her storyline hinted at tyranny all along, and legions blamed writers for the seemingly unfounded plot twist. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Emilia Clarke Was "Flabbergasted" by Daenerys Targaryen's Ending in Game of Thrones Season 8," 21 May 2019 Plus, if Dany doesn't get her tendencies toward tyranny in check (RIP Randyll and Dickon Tarly), there will be far greater issues to address than the lack of a welcoming committee at Winterfell. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Game of Thrones Rivalry Between Sansa & Daenerys Is Gendered and Regressive," 16 Apr. 2019 The conjunction of dreaming and ruling generates tyranny. Barton Swaim, WSJ, "All You Need Is a Congress and a Dream," 10 Feb. 2019 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tyranny

Statistics for tyranny

Last Updated

16 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tyranny

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on tyranny

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

WORD OF THE DAY

showing great care, attention, and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!