Definition of caudillo in English:



  • (in Spanish-speaking regions) a military or political leader.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Most important, the MVR is governed not by institutional rules, but by the personal predominance of a charismatic caudillo.’
    • ‘This prosperity also strengthened the local caudillo, Santiago Vidaurri, who dominated the Northeast of Mexico from 1855 to the end of the French occupation.’
    • ‘Political life is focused on caudillos within a contemporary system of coalitions that features from seven to twenty political parties.’
    • ‘Despite the quite significant role of labor confederations, political life in Honduras has been dominated by civilian caudillos and military strongmen.’
    • ‘In fact, until 1935 Venezuela had mainly been lead by strong military caudillos.’
    • ‘In 1871, a liberal caudillo or military dictator, Justo Rufino Barrios, took power and ruled as president from 1873 to 1885.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘Characteristically, the dictatorship co-opted or eliminated political opponents and regional caudillos or bosses.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘No leader of any underdeveloped country of any size has been a world figure as long as the Cuban caudillo.’
    • ‘His study of the caudillos focuses on Angel Vicente Penaloza, known as El Chacho, ‘The Boy’ (although he was approaching seventy years old).’
    • ‘Borges was deep down an old-fashioned liberal, however, who despised the Spanish-American tradition of the caudillo (political strongman) and its vulgar populism.’
    • ‘He cites Elizardo Sánchez, a prominent island dissident, saying: ‘When the days of charismatic caudillos are over, their ideologies are also over.’’
    • ‘Panama's struggles were played on the world stage, and its caudillos were world players.’
    • ‘Historically, land was obtained through titles given by Spanish and Portuguese representatives, distributed by caudillos, or informally occupied.’
    • ‘The recent examples of Fujimori in Peru and Menem in Argentina, in particular, demonstrate that civilians too can be like caudillos (military strongmen).’
    • ‘Fox relied heavily on the strength of his personal image as a caudillo, which is by no means a new phenomenon in Mexican politics.’


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.