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(A title of) an autocratic ruler.
Early 18th century; earliest use found in Prerogative of Primogeniture. From Hellenistic Greek and Byzantine Greek αὐτοκράτωρ title of the Roman emperor, originally after Russian samoderžec absolute ruler, (now obsolete) sovereign ruler (Old Russian samod′rž′c′ master, sovereign ruler, absolute ruler), itself after Byzantine Greek αὐτοκράτωρ. Compare Russian (now hist.) avtokrator (formerly avtokrator″; 1709 or earlier as an appellation of the emperor of Russia; in later use also as title of the Byzantine emperors), French † autocrateur, title of the emperor of Russia, German † Autokrator, all either from post-classical Latin autocrator or its etymon Greek αὐτοκράτωρ.
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