tyranny

noun
tyr·​an·​ny | \ˈtir-ə-nē \
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

Stephen Greenblatt examines tyranny through close readings of Shakespeare’s greatest despots. Time Staff, Time, "Best Nonfiction Books of 2018 So Far," 11 June 2018 Unshackling scripted shows from the tyranny of linear programming has also given fans more power than network marketers who don't speak the language. Emma Grey Ellis, WIRED, "What Brought Sense8 Back—and What Killed It in the First Place," 8 June 2018 The founders of our country well understood that the concentration of power threatens individual liberty and established a bulwark against such tyranny by creating a separation of powers among the branches of government. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Republican judges warn of ‘tyranny’ as they block Trump on ‘sanctuary cities’," 20 Apr. 2018 After all, the Nordic social democracies are still alive and kicking; historically, concentrating financial power in the state apparatus has often been an invitation to tyranny. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "The Liberal Media Can Have Ideological Diversity Without Conservatives," 6 May 2018 John Paul’s courageous voice for freedom over tyranny helped reduce the Berlin Wall to rubble and freed millions in Poland and across Eastern Europe. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "Betsy DeVos Urges Ave Maria Grads to 'Embrace the Mess': Read the Full Text of Education Secretary's Commencement Speech," 5 May 2018 In February, the internet’s resident critic John Herrman wrote about the tyranny of the red dot. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Why Is Everything So Hideous?," 2 May 2018 The international community has to ally with people, not despotism, in order to survive; tyrannies will leave one day, and only the people who struggle for freedom, justice and democracy will remain. Alessandra Codinha, Vogue, "Tawakkol Karman Has Not Given Up On Yemen—And Neither Should You," 27 Mar. 2018 Where exactly is the line between normal government and tyranny? Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Do We Need Assault Weapons in Case We Decide to Kill ‘Tyrannical’ Cops and Soldiers?," 22 Feb. 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

3 Nov 2018

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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 \
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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