ty·​rant | \ ˈtī-rənt How to pronounce tyrant (audio) \

Definition of tyrant

1a : an absolute ruler unrestrained by law or constitution
b : a usurper of sovereignty
2a : a ruler who exercises absolute power oppressively or brutally
b : one resembling an oppressive ruler in the harsh use of authority or power

What makes someone a tyrant?

A glance at the comments posted in response to our definition of tyrant illustrate two things: the word has a fairly wide spectrum of meaning, and many political rulers of late (regardless of party and action) are thought by some to merit this description. The word is often now found used as a generalized term of reproach ("he was a real tyrant in the kitchen"), and also with more specific denotation ("the tyrant suspended the country’s judicial code"). The definitions we give for words match, as best as possible, the manner in which these words are used. We cannot offer judgment on whether or not any specific individual is or is not a tyrant.

Examples of tyrant in a Sentence

Our boss is a real tyrant. the people universally feared the tyrant, who was notorious for his frequent use of torture
Recent Examples on the Web Besides, what kind of tyrant insisted on being addressed by his first name? Jake S. Friedman, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 July 2022 The brilliantly incisive hypothesis of the late sociologist Charles Tilly was that the tyrant merely represents, in more vivid plumage, the nature of leadership in any modern state. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 16 May 2022 Our family is asking Prince Charles not to remain silent to this reality and to not shake the hand of the tyrant who is holding our father as a political prisoner. Carine Kanimba And Anaïse Kanimba, CNN, 17 June 2022 As Albania’s ruler, Zog had been a tyrant and a modernizer, a viper and a visionary, intent on obtaining and holding power at any cost. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, 12 Apr. 2022 The international community, led by the US, cannot be intimidated by a Russian tyrant who throws his critics in prison and invades his neighbors. Frida Ghitis, CNN, 25 Feb. 2022 And this is probably the fatal mistake of the tyrant who attacked us. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, 8 Apr. 2022 The authoritarian, Islamist leader of the Republic of Turkey delivered a shot in the arm to embattled Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin this week, by threatening to block the accession of Finland and Sweden to the NATO military alliance. Benjamin Weinthal, Fox News, 20 May 2022 The tyrant cleric had seen in it only blasphemous portrayals of the prophet Muhammad. Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tyrant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of tyrant

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for tyrant

Middle English tyraunt, from Anglo-French tyran, tyrant, from Latin tyrannus, from Greek tyrannos

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Time Traveler for tyrant

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for tyrant

Last Updated

13 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tyrant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tyrant. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for tyrant


ty·​rant | \ ˈtī-rənt How to pronounce tyrant (audio) \

Kids Definition of tyrant

1 : a ruler who has no legal limits on his or her power
2 : a ruler who exercises total power harshly and cruelly
3 : a person who uses authority or power harshly My boss is a real tyrant.

More from Merriam-Webster on tyrant

Nglish: Translation of tyrant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tyrant for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tyrant


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