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’
    • ‘Leaders of churches, for example, may be reluctant to advocate restrictive legislation because they are seen to represent authoritarian institutions.’
    • ‘To modern ears, the scientific democrats' program may sound as deeply authoritarian as the intellectual tyranny they feared.’
    • ‘Historically, liberalism drew its strength from a critique of divinely sanctioned absolute monarchs and authoritarian rule.’
    • ‘Their values - strict authoritarian values in the conservatives' case - are what motivate them to enter the voting booth.’
    • ‘Medieval society was authoritarian and oppressive; if you entertained views different from those of the authorities, you kept quiet about it.’
    • ‘The historiography reveals insights into the authoritarian mindset of freedom fighters shaped as a product of oppression and armed resistance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This is a model for arbitrary authoritarian government.’
    • ‘This probably will be the nature of the political cycle that is now beginning - neither wholly democratic nor wholly authoritarian.’
    • ‘His increasingly authoritarian style of leadership has provoked some concern about the future of democracy in the country.’
    • ‘On World Freedom Day, we also recognize that more than two billion people still live under authoritarian regimes.’
    • ‘But the imposition of authoritarian control and discipline creates exactly the opposite of the effect intended.’
    • ‘The system is a hard-to-classify blend of democratic and authoritarian features.’
    • ‘Civil society is always subversive of totalitarian or authoritarian power: in democracies, it sets limits on the exercise of legitimate power.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘During the authoritarian era, people dared not speak out about the abuse of power or privilege, no matter how angry they were.’
    • ‘How does the world's biggest authoritarian government address the boundless freedom of the Internet?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In an authoritarian state, those in power set the limit of freedom.’
    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’
      • ‘I'm thinking maybe it's some form of authoritarian arrogance.’
      • ‘The calls strengthened public opinion that she is authoritarian and allergic to criticism.’
      • ‘More than anyone else at the time, he had reason to be arrogant and authoritarian.’
      • ‘There is something almost authoritarian to the strict order of this arrangement.’
      • ‘There is no government bureaucracy more arrogant, unaccountable, and authoritarian.’
      • ‘He was authoritarian and intolerant but was also urbane and charming when he needed to be.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Children of authoritarian parents lacked social skills with their peers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She is many things - venal, arrogant, authoritarian, ruthless - but she is no dummy.’
      • ‘Socrates complains that a text, unlike a talking person, is authoritarian, eliminating dialogue.’
      • ‘Their authoritarian leaders were economic incompetents and intolerant of even the mildest expressions of dissent.’
      • ‘Such a concern adds a new paternalistic layer to the increasingly authoritarian role of local government.’
      • ‘This ‘club’ is seen as arrogant and authoritarian, even dangerous to the future security of the bulk of the world's population.’
      • ‘Staff were also concerned about authoritarian management practices and a lack of transparency in appointments.’
      pompous, cocksure, self-important, arrogant, superior
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  • An authoritarian person.

    • ‘This enables the authoritarians to bamboozle the people into thinking they are still free.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This exposed the long-hidden fault line between authoritarians and libertarians.’
    • ‘But as for the majority, my impression is they are far from being instinctive authoritarians.’
    • ‘The absence of a real, active campaigning democratic left has left a vacuum which the authoritarians have filled.’
    • ‘That's normally been the strategy of the extreme right and the authoritarians.’
    • ‘Their dirty little secret is that they know that the majority of Americans are not by nature authoritarians - they are individualists and communitarians.’
    • ‘But the agenda of right-wing authoritarians did not change.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It provided a bridge between the corporate freemarketers and the moral authoritarians who define the poles of the Republican Party.’
    • ‘In the end the authoritarians prevailed by consistently outvoting their opponents, and the libertarians were forced out.’
    • ‘He was against colonialism and neo-colonialism in all their forms, against racism, elites, and authoritarians of all varieties.’
    • ‘The power structures may have changed, but authoritarians will still abuse power however they can.’
    • ‘Cautious optimism reigns; of course anything could happen, and the region's authoritarians aren't going to give up easily.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One of the things that irritate me most in the world is how conservative authoritarians have hijacked the word ‘family’.’
    • ‘Drug-dealing happens every second of the day, and only the most blinkered authoritarians now think that it can be stomped out through ‘crackdowns’.’
    autocrat, despot, dictator, tyrant, absolutist
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