Definition of caudillo in English:



  • (in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries) a military or political leader.

    • ‘This prosperity also strengthened the local caudillo, Santiago Vidaurri, who dominated the Northeast of Mexico from 1855 to the end of the French occupation.’
    • ‘In 1871, a liberal caudillo or military dictator, Justo Rufino Barrios, took power and ruled as president from 1873 to 1885.’
    • ‘No leader of any underdeveloped country of any size has been a world figure as long as the Cuban caudillo.’
    • ‘Political life is focused on caudillos within a contemporary system of coalitions that features from seven to twenty political parties.’
    • ‘His study of the caudillos focuses on Angel Vicente Penaloza, known as El Chacho, ‘The Boy’ (although he was approaching seventy years old).’
    • ‘According to the historian Prescott, Pizarro, the caudillo, spent a million pesos in gold to equip an army to fight La Gasca, the Pacifier, whose fleet was battered by a storm but arrived safely on the equatorial coasts.’
    • ‘In fact, until 1935 Venezuela had mainly been lead by strong military caudillos.’
    • ‘Borges was deep down an old-fashioned liberal, however, who despised the Spanish-American tradition of the caudillo (political strongman) and its vulgar populism.’
    • ‘Despite the quite significant role of labor confederations, political life in Honduras has been dominated by civilian caudillos and military strongmen.’
    • ‘Most important, the MVR is governed not by institutional rules, but by the personal predominance of a charismatic caudillo.’
    • ‘In 1955, he returned to Spain and in the 1970s painted a portrait of Franco's granddaughter, not only delivering the painting personally to the caudillo, but also publicly endorsing him.’
    • ‘He cites Elizardo Sánchez, a prominent island dissident, saying: ‘When the days of charismatic caudillos are over, their ideologies are also over.’’
    • ‘Their fortunes are being revived with the feeling, increasingly common in Peru and elsewhere, that only a caudillo, the classic Latin strongman, can solve the longstanding problems that plague the region.’
    • ‘Characteristically, the dictatorship co-opted or eliminated political opponents and regional caudillos or bosses.’
    • ‘Fox relied heavily on the strength of his personal image as a caudillo, which is by no means a new phenomenon in Mexican politics.’
    • ‘The recent examples of Fujimori in Peru and Menem in Argentina, in particular, demonstrate that civilians too can be like caudillos (military strongmen).’
    • ‘Historically, land was obtained through titles given by Spanish and Portuguese representatives, distributed by caudillos, or informally occupied.’
    • ‘Panama's struggles were played on the world stage, and its caudillos were world players.’
    • ‘The authors use this model to illustrate the rise of local caudillos and, after the railroad lowered transportation costs, the eventual consolidation of power in Buenos Aires.’
    • ‘The first of the strong-armed leaders called caudillos, Pedro Santana became president.’


Spanish, from late Latin capitellum, diminutive of Latin caput ‘head’. The title El Caudillo, ‘the leader’, was assumed by General Franco of Spain in 1938.