Definition of authoritarian in US English:



  • 1Favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom.

    ‘the transition from an authoritarian to a democratic regime’
    • ‘There is a lot at stake in this issue - principally the question of whether the democratic or the authoritarian principle will be ascendant in social relations today.’
    • ‘How does the world's biggest authoritarian government address the boundless freedom of the Internet?’
    • ‘The country had long been under the rule of a corrupt dictator whose authoritarian rule had alienated the masses.’
    • ‘These rules had been strongly enforced during authoritarian regimes to the point that people risked imprisonment or even death if they failed to follow them.’
    • ‘In an authoritarian state, those in power set the limit of freedom.’
    • ‘Leaders of churches, for example, may be reluctant to advocate restrictive legislation because they are seen to represent authoritarian institutions.’
    • ‘Medieval society was authoritarian and oppressive; if you entertained views different from those of the authorities, you kept quiet about it.’
    • ‘During the authoritarian era, people dared not speak out about the abuse of power or privilege, no matter how angry they were.’
    • ‘Historically, liberalism drew its strength from a critique of divinely sanctioned absolute monarchs and authoritarian rule.’
    • ‘On World Freedom Day, we also recognize that more than two billion people still live under authoritarian regimes.’
    • ‘Their values - strict authoritarian values in the conservatives' case - are what motivate them to enter the voting booth.’
    • ‘But the imposition of authoritarian control and discipline creates exactly the opposite of the effect intended.’
    • ‘The historiography reveals insights into the authoritarian mindset of freedom fighters shaped as a product of oppression and armed resistance.’
    • ‘This probably will be the nature of the political cycle that is now beginning - neither wholly democratic nor wholly authoritarian.’
    • ‘This is a model for arbitrary authoritarian government.’
    • ‘The church and the Communist Party were both, it used to be argued, dogmatic and authoritarian institutions, demanding obedience and total commitment.’
    • ‘Authoritarian governments have deprived people of political, civil and intellectual freedoms for decades.’
    • ‘Civil society is always subversive of totalitarian or authoritarian power: in democracies, it sets limits on the exercise of legitimate power.’
    • ‘The system is a hard-to-classify blend of democratic and authoritarian features.’
    • ‘His increasingly authoritarian style of leadership has provoked some concern about the future of democracy in the country.’
    • ‘To modern ears, the scientific democrats' program may sound as deeply authoritarian as the intellectual tyranny they feared.’
    autocratic, dictatorial, totalitarian, despotic, tyrannical, autarchic, draconian, absolute, arbitrary, oppressive, repressive, illiberal, undemocratic, anti-democratic
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    1. 1.1 Showing a lack of concern for the wishes or opinions of others; domineering; dictatorial.
      ‘he had an authoritarian and at times belligerent manner’
      • ‘More than anyone else at the time, he had reason to be arrogant and authoritarian.’
      • ‘Such a concern adds a new paternalistic layer to the increasingly authoritarian role of local government.’
      • ‘The calls strengthened public opinion that she is authoritarian and allergic to criticism.’
      • ‘Socrates complains that a text, unlike a talking person, is authoritarian, eliminating dialogue.’
      • ‘She is many things - venal, arrogant, authoritarian, ruthless - but she is no dummy.’
      • ‘They are more old-fashioned and authoritarian than their parents' generation and are very concerned about school discipline.’
      • ‘There is an ongoing tension between a single, authoritarian reading and multiple and emancipatory readings of a text.’
      • ‘This ‘club’ is seen as arrogant and authoritarian, even dangerous to the future security of the bulk of the world's population.’
      • ‘There is something almost authoritarian to the strict order of this arrangement.’
      • ‘I thought that the process was in some ways too authoritarian; that people were driven to meet deadlines and driven to attend meetings on short notice.’
      • ‘Staff were also concerned about authoritarian management practices and a lack of transparency in appointments.’
      • ‘I'm thinking maybe it's some form of authoritarian arrogance.’
      • ‘Their authoritarian leaders were economic incompetents and intolerant of even the mildest expressions of dissent.’
      • ‘He was authoritarian and intolerant but was also urbane and charming when he needed to be.’
      • ‘There is no government bureaucracy more arrogant, unaccountable, and authoritarian.’
      • ‘Children of authoritarian parents lacked social skills with their peers.’
      pompous, cocksure, self-important, arrogant, superior
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  • An authoritarian person.

    • ‘There are some ugly signs that such a mood is already spreading, though the hysteria seems more common among authoritarians on both sides in this country than in the more tolerant US.’
    • ‘These decisions are simply too important to be made by authoritarians in secret.’
    • ‘The absence of a real, active campaigning democratic left has left a vacuum which the authoritarians have filled.’
    • ‘One does not have to go back to ancient Athens to grasp the depressing fact that most authoritarians do not surrender power voluntarily.’
    • ‘His was a family where fathers were absent figures, authoritarians, and mothers were the ones who communicated and shaped the children.’
    • ‘This enables the authoritarians to bamboozle the people into thinking they are still free.’
    • ‘The power structures may have changed, but authoritarians will still abuse power however they can.’
    • ‘Drug-dealing happens every second of the day, and only the most blinkered authoritarians now think that it can be stomped out through ‘crackdowns’.’
    • ‘He was against colonialism and neo-colonialism in all their forms, against racism, elites, and authoritarians of all varieties.’
    • ‘It provided a bridge between the corporate freemarketers and the moral authoritarians who define the poles of the Republican Party.’
    • ‘But the agenda of right-wing authoritarians did not change.’
    • ‘Their dirty little secret is that they know that the majority of Americans are not by nature authoritarians - they are individualists and communitarians.’
    • ‘But as for the majority, my impression is they are far from being instinctive authoritarians.’
    • ‘Cautious optimism reigns; of course anything could happen, and the region's authoritarians aren't going to give up easily.’
    • ‘They had expected that reform, if it came at all, would occur gradually and piecemeal, and would be the work of enlightened authoritarians rather than elected representatives.’
    • ‘That's normally been the strategy of the extreme right and the authoritarians.’
    • ‘He has rightly said the political battle is no longer between ideas of the left and the right - but between the ideas of liberals and authoritarians.’
    • ‘One of the things that irritate me most in the world is how conservative authoritarians have hijacked the word ‘family’.’
    • ‘This exposed the long-hidden fault line between authoritarians and libertarians.’
    • ‘In the end the authoritarians prevailed by consistently outvoting their opponents, and the libertarians were forced out.’
    autocrat, despot, dictator, tyrant, absolutist
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