Definition of dictator in US English:



  • 1A ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained control by force.

    • ‘This war is not about democracy; our history shows that we have put more right-wing dictators in power throughout the world than we have supported democracy.’
    • ‘First of all, we have been supporting despots, dictators, and oligarchs in all those states for a variety of purposes.’
    • ‘They have allowed terrorists, anarchists, dictators and religious fanatics to flourish within their borders.’
    • ‘We see a dictator using force to repress and persecute his opponents.’
    • ‘We have struggled courageously to topple the dictator and establish democracy.’
    • ‘The pig leader Napoleon and his rival Snowball symbolize the dictator Stalin and the Communist leader Leon Trotsky.’
    • ‘Why bother, ask many commentators, expending moral indignation on a totalitarian dictator who is universally despised?’
    • ‘The company depends on grabbing diamonds from whoever controls them, even if they are tyrants or dictators.’
    • ‘Kings and dictators might be very good at imposing order, but as early bankers learned the hard was they can't be trusted to pay back their debts.’
    • ‘If the genes of violence are in many of us, why are they less likely to be in democratically elected rulers than in dictators?’
    • ‘Instead of building bridges of friendship to the people of Central Asia, we are instead aligning ourselves with the brutal dictators who oppress them.’
    • ‘Moreover, American distrust of government has long fed on the abuses of state power abroad, whether by despotic monarchs, fascist dictators or communist tyrants.’
    • ‘Stalin has metamorphosed into a totalitarian dictator intent on conquest, and the storm clouds of a new conflict gather.’
    • ‘Assassinating dictators and toppling undemocratic regimes doesn't sound so bad, in the end.’
    • ‘Terrorists, extremists, dictators, and leaders with narrow interests have led the human race into wars and violence for centuries in the name of justice, religion, and revenge.’
    • ‘Their wealth is being drained via corrupt Governments and dictators and the international community is turning a blind eye’
    • ‘We opposed him from day one, because it was clear that he was a socialist dictator and a tyrant.’
    • ‘He has stood up to petty tyrants, from dogmatic Communists, through McCarthyites to third-world dictators.’
    • ‘There are many countries in the world where the unfortunate people living there, are subject to the whims of corrupt dictators who have managed to gain power, usually by force.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, even absolute monarchs or totalitarian dictators are constrained by forces beyond their control.’
    autocrat, monocrat, absolute ruler
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    1. 1.1 A person who behaves in an autocratic way.
      • ‘But golf is also such a threat to autocrats and dictators because it is a game that is built around the rule of law - namely the Rules of Golf.’
      • ‘The ability of the surgeon to allow himself to become a partner, not a dictator, is critical.’
      • ‘Lucky to still be up, I assume they're fishing around for rich dictators as we speak, plus a manager, plus a defence.’
      • ‘They are not representative of the public and are behaving like dictators.’
      • ‘Saturday night the truth will be spoken and it will come from none other than boxing's dictator over the last decade, Roy Jones Jr.’
      autocrat, despot, tyrant, absolutist
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    2. 1.2 (in ancient Rome) a chief magistrate with absolute power, appointed in an emergency.
      • ‘Caesar was declared dictator of Rome by the now submissive Senate.’
      • ‘Caesar was a warlord and a dictator, but if one can look past that, as ridiculous as it sounds, then one would also notice that Caesar did a lot of good for Rome.’
      • ‘Sulla used his power as dictator to refashion the Roman state.’
      • ‘The strategy of the dictator Fabius prevented further losses.’
      • ‘Gaius Octavius, as Augustus was originally known, was 18 when in 43 BC his great-uncle, the dictator Julius Caesar, was assassinated.’
      • ‘He defeated Pompey's troops in many battles and became the dictator of Rome.’
      • ‘In 46BC Cleopatra arrives in Rome; Caesar is appointed dictator for 10 years; he revises the calendar’
      • ‘Finally the republic was torn to pieces by rival power-hungry tribunes or dictators like Pompey, Sulla, and Julius Caesar.’
      • ‘The realism of the Romans about the relationships between power and consent can be seen in the office of dictator, for dictatorship was a constitutional office in republican Rome.’
      • ‘In the early first century BC the dictator Sulla sought to eliminate his opponents by ‘proscribing’ the names of all those who were declared to be traitors.’
      • ‘The Society took its name from the Roman dictator Fabius, nicknamed ‘Cunctator’, or delayer.’


Late Middle English: from Latin, from dictat- ‘dictated’, from the verb dictare (see dictate).