Definition of oligarch in English:



  • 1A ruler in an oligarchy.

    • ‘As we went to press, oligarchs from the old regime and the opposition were claiming to run the country.’
    • ‘When Cosimo took control of Florence in 1537, the old oligarchs tried to regain their political power by influencing the seventeen-year-old ruler.’
    • ‘The dictatorship of transnational corporations, ruled by financial oligarchs, must be ended.’
    • ‘These cities were ruled by oligarchs who enjoyed the backing of the Roman authorities.’
    • ‘The Kremlin apologists are trying, for their part, to present this conflict as a fight against the oligarchs and corruption.’
    • ‘Democratic slogans were hypocritically used when they permitted the future oligarchs to proceed with their conquest of property.’
    • ‘The conflict between the Kremlin and a section of the oligarchs is about who will exercise control over this sector.’
    • ‘When it came to dealing with the oligarchs, the government was generally unable to exercise much control.’
    • ‘If the power of the oligarchs has increased, how do you propose to deal with that, if and when you become president?’
    • ‘Nevertheless, Hayes had a reputation as a civil-service reformer, so he fought the oligarchs.’
    • ‘The claim that the oligarchs privatized companies in order to strip their assets gets the logic backwards.’
    • ‘However, should the city fall into misfortune, the people will blame the rulers and call them oligarchs.’
    • ‘Now, a few top oligarchs can not control the system, without their lackeys.’
    • ‘Oligarchs come, oligarchs go, but the true fan can never switch allegiance.’
    • ‘The Regent oligarchs, holding office for life, were like kings by divine right, they too answered to no earthly power.’
    • ‘Nor is the criminality of Russia's oligarchs an aberration.’
    • ‘Privatization measures have placed former state properties under the control of former state oligarchs.’
    • ‘The oligarchs with their trusted lackeys, treated the rest of the population, as human cattle.’
    • ‘Hoffman's perspective is clearly critical of the oligarchs, but unlike other books about them, his is not a screed.’
    • ‘In 1660 the regency was vested in the oligarchs, and they faced the problem of maintaining Sweden's status without the profits of war.’
    • ‘With this sense of national pride in place, the oligarchs were ready to administer sweeping reforms, the first of which ended the status of the samurai.’
    • ‘Kings and oligarchs are playing their last card: we can prevent their game.’
    • ‘Now, step by step, the levers of power are returning to the old oligarchs against whom the revolution was supposedly directed.’
    • ‘Sampson sums up this process of enrichment and the creation of a new stratum of financial oligarchs and their impact on society very succinctly.’
    • ‘That proportion does not necessarily include all the oligarchs, who may in any case not be as important as the corporate bureaucracies they bestride.’
    • ‘The sense of individual identity of the oligarch is entirely located in the social structure of the oligarchy itself.’
    • ‘First of all, we have been supporting despots, dictators, and oligarchs in all those states for a variety of purposes.’
    • ‘In the Cuban view, freedom is the participation in power by the people rather than people trying to carve out limits on the exercise of power by oligarchs.’
  • 2(especially in Russia) a very rich business leader with a great deal of political influence.

    • ‘By making their fortunes on the backs of common Russians, the oligarchs themselves are a pretty unsympathetic lot.’
    • ‘Rather, he manoeuvred and tried to reconcile his loyalty towards Putin with his support for the oligarchs.’
    • ‘What many Russian oligarchs could only dream about over the last years has now become a reality.’
    • ‘While oligarchs grow rich and a significant number of Russians are impoverished, a multipart economy has developed.’
    • ‘Some have lost their status as a result of the August 1998 financial crisis but all of the original seven oligarchs are included here.’
    • ‘The oligarchs are greatly resented by large numbers of Russians who did not benefit from the privatisation of state property.’
    • ‘We are starting to win back our country from the media, the oligarchs, the corrupt politicians.’
    • ‘The article praises Vladimir Putin for fighting with oligarchs.’
    • ‘Putin has the opportunity to put an end to a number of Russian oligarchs, or at least to radically diminish their pernicious political role.’
    • ‘Flanked by a coterie of burly henchmen, the Russian oligarch promptly takes to one of the pitches intent on some shooting practice.’
    • ‘Nor will they benefit by being ruled by oligarchs from the western Ukraine rather than from the eastern Ukraine.’
    • ‘At the heart of the technocratic agenda was trade liberalization, which threatened the protectionist policies that had coddled the native oligarchs.’
    • ‘The Kremlin also gave indications that it would take action against other oligarchs.’
    • ‘Until late 1999, moreover, almost none of the oligarchs had done much to restructure or improve the assets they had acquired from the state.’
    • ‘He predicts more such actions aimed at oligarchs who control strategic natural resources.’
    • ‘The oligarchs, those Kremlin-connected magnates who once dazzled the world with their riches, are reeling.’
    • ‘The dictatorship of transnational corporations, ruled by financial oligarchs, must be ended.’
    • ‘Western officials and banks worked with (and continue to work with) the new Russian oligarchs and their political allies.’
    • ‘It was about who rules Russia, the oligarchs or the Kremlin.’
    • ‘The wealth of the Russian state was transferred not to the people but to a few oligarchs.’


Late 19th century: from Greek oligarkhēs, from oligoi ‘few’ + arkhein ‘to rule’.