tyrant

noun
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

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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

Francis’ dedicated right hand who would do anything for the tyrant, even in death. Alexis Jones, Marie Claire, "'House of Cards' Season 6, Surprisingly, Still Needs More Claire," 6 Nov. 2018 Hooded and leering, Sicardo was a tyrant and a murderer. Michael Siconolfi, WSJ, "Searching the Amalfi Coast for Long-Lost Family Ties," 11 Oct. 2018 Well, history suggests that absolute monarchs become absolute tyrants, and that their sense of themselves becomes grotesquely inflated. Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "CEOs have never been more idolized. 5 experts explain why that’s a problem.," 29 Nov. 2018 That is why every aspiring tyrant in modern history has made the independent media his first target. David Roberts, Vox, "The caravan “invasion” and America’s epistemic crisis," 2 Nov. 2018 Greenblatt hits this note throughout the book, pointing out that even the worst of Shakespeare's tyrants often value popular support and try to curry it with sham-everyman gestures. Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Tyrant' examines the evidence of popular attraction to demagogues as seen in Shakepeare's plays," 15 May 2018 Sometimes being a tyrant can feel quite oppressive. Charlie Theel, Ars Technica, "Root is a terrific—and fully asymmetric—woodland wargame," 29 Sep. 2018 The two skeletons that would eventually reveal the tyrant's full glory were excavated by famed fossil hunter Barnum Brown in 1900 and 1902, respectively, and later described by paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn in 1905. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "How We Elected T. rex to be Our Tyrant Lizard King," 21 June 2018 Montesquieu characterized Islamic states as dominated by tyrants and religiously servile. Jacob Soll, The New Republic, "How Islam Shaped the Enlightenment," 12 Apr. 2018

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.

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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

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

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More Definitions for tyrant

tyrant

noun

English Language Learners Definition of tyrant

: a ruler who has complete power over a country and who is cruel and unfair
: someone who uses power in a cruel and unfair way

tyrant

noun
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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on tyrant

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tyrant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tyrant

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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