Definition of monopoly in US English:



  • 1The exclusive possession or control of the supply of or trade in a commodity or service.

    ‘his likely motive was to protect his regional monopoly on furs’
    • ‘With cities from Shanghai to Beijing to Shenzhen vying for a piece of the action, Hong Kong is losing its monopoly on China trade.’
    • ‘It used to have a ‘wow factor’ and a monopoly on upmarket shops, but these retailers have been opening up in other parts of London and in towns all over the country.’
    • ‘Sovereignty resides in the people and no branch may claim to possess a monopoly of the sovereign powers.’
    • ‘The Post Office has a monopoly on these services and customers do not have the luxury of choosing another supplier in the immediate area.’
    • ‘The heroine lives in a remote village in Olea - the corporation/state that has a global monopoly on olive oil production.’
    • ‘Indeed, ‘Samuel was thought to enjoy a virtual monopoly on all Moroccan trade with the Netherlands’.’
    • ‘If this competition were to be removed then the private companies would have a monopoly on the collection service and would therefore be free to charge as they pleased.’
    • ‘He did at one stage manage to employ one quarter of that number, but even with the monopoly on army supplies he never broke even.’
    • ‘Decriminalisation has all the disadvantages of increased use while allowing gangs to retain their virtual monopoly on production and supply.’
    • ‘In Pattaya, by contrast, the baht bus enjoys a de facto monopoly on the taxi service.’
    • ‘As a general rule, these companies were given a monopoly on trade in a region.’
    • ‘Conservative governments commercialised a public service, broke its monopoly on stamp sales and closed many hundreds of sub post offices.’
    • ‘That's the legal term used to describe a company that leverages a monopoly in one market into an adjacent area.’
    • ‘From its harbours, Albuquerque's fleet brutally enforced the Portuguese monopoly of the spice trade.’
    • ‘The only way to break their hold is to remove their monopoly on supply.’
    • ‘The firm has an effective monopoly on the supermarket trolley advertising business in Ireland.’
    • ‘Personal medical services break the monopoly of the independently contracted general practitioner.’
    • ‘The Company lost its monopoly on Indian trade in 1813, and its charter for Chinese trade was removed in 1833, after which it ceased to be a trading concern.’
    • ‘Deregulation has the effect of causing many state-owned insurers to lose their monopoly on the local markets.’
    • ‘The planned expansion is expected to put the company in a competitive position if Gasprom's monopoly over natural gas transportation is waived.’
    1. 1.1 A company or group having exclusive control over a commodity or service.
      ‘areas where cable companies operate as monopolies’
      • ‘It will remain a state-owned monopoly, providing healthcare free at the point of need.’
      • ‘The market is slowing, mainly due to the inflated prices that are caused by real estate agency monopolies and high commissions.’
      • ‘Production was traditionally concentrated in the hands of large state-owned monopolies largely in the extractive, defence, and machine tool industries.’
      • ‘One manifestation of this obsession has been the dismantling of what were once state-owned monopolies such as electricity suppliers and public transport networks into smaller, competing units.’
      • ‘The Essential Services Act would also apply to water, gas and other key public services now controlled by private monopolies.’
      • ‘He just resented giving it to the shareholders of privatised monopolies.’
      • ‘State-owned monopolies continued to control electricity and water supply, railways and harbours, broadcasting, air transport, and much steel production.’
      • ‘State monopolies or privileged private companies secure strategic resources and keep open the conduits that provide money to the metropole.’
      • ‘It has been taken over by large monopolies - money-grubbing companies.’
      • ‘I am opposed to turning public monopolies into private monopolies.’
      • ‘Do we really want to return to the bad old days of state-owned monopolies in the utilities sector?’
      • ‘Whilst privatisation proceeds apace and monopolies are being dismantled, there is clearly a long way to go before a market economy will truly exist here.’
      • ‘Working for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Mr Lay became a keen advocate of the liberalisation of gas and electricity monopolies.’
      • ‘State-owned monopolies provided bad service at high prices.’
      • ‘In its attempt to raise more revenue from the sale of these enterprises, the government alienated citizens by replacing public monopolies with protected private monopolies.’
      • ‘And companies with unique products or monopolies also can raise prices almost at will.’
      • ‘He says five years after the state owned electricity monopolies were broken up and competition introduced, the electricity market is fast losing ground.’
      • ‘It is a well-known phrase that if there is one thing worse than a public monopoly, it is a private monopoly.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, many of the businesses mooted for privatization are either virtual monopolies or operate in oligopolistic environments.’
      • ‘Tycoons operate monopolies through the blessing of governments, central and regional, and with support from corrupt courts and bureaucrats.’
    2. 1.2 A commodity or service in the exclusive control of a company or group.
      ‘electricity, gas, and water were considered to be natural monopolies’
      • ‘Keep in mind that electric power is a natural monopoly.’
      • ‘The root cause of public sector inefficiency is the fact that public services are government monopolies which are immune from competitive pressures.’
      • ‘The highway system is a natural monopoly if the way to get goods and services to various destinations is the automobile.’
      • ‘But Railtrack is a natural monopoly and if it is to work in the interest of the people, rather than shareholders, then it must be owned by the people.’
      • ‘Further it said as a natural monopoly the rail network presents a rather different problem.’
      • ‘The electricity grid in a local neighborhood is a good example of a natural monopoly.’
      • ‘Most roads are natural monopolies with few substitutes.’
      • ‘As we've discussed, fiber is an area where it might make sense for a single network that everyone has access to, since it's a natural monopoly.’
      • ‘After all, health care is not a public good or natural monopoly so one can't argue that government must provide it.’
      • ‘But in situations not involving either land or natural monopolies, his clear preference was for private enterprise and private ownership.’
      • ‘It is a natural monopoly and best owned by the state, he thought.’
      • ‘Communications networks have long been considered natural monopolies vital to national commercial and security interests.’
    3. 1.3usually with negative The exclusive possession, control, or exercise of something.
      ‘men don't have a monopoly on unrequited love’
      • ‘My piece on the breakup of the Left's monopoly on opinion and information generated enormous feedback - most of it favorable.’
      • ‘But America's monopoly on the weapon until 1949 saved Western Europe from Stalinism.’
      • ‘America has no monopoly on nation-building or reconstruction experience.’
      • ‘Of course, this country has no monopoly on ridiculous elections.’
      • ‘We don't need a Walt Disney monopoly on creativity.’
      • ‘Taipei has no monopoly on interpreting Taiwan's culture.’
      • ‘Most representative, as well as most worrisome, is the fact that the state's monopoly on weapons is being seriously challenged.’
      • ‘By the beginning of the '60s, television was loosening newspapers' monopoly on the news.’
      • ‘But don't think for a second that the Fed has some kind of monopoly on a situation where rapacity pervades honest reason.’
      • ‘It may even be that critical intellectuals have some special obligations, though they have no monopoly on thinking or wisdom.’
      • ‘Clinical trials have no special monopoly on the high intellectual road and certainly not on the truth about suffering people.’
      • ‘The party's monopoly on power remains unchanged.’
      • ‘The militias pose a long-term problem for security, since they violate the state's monopoly on the use of force.’
      • ‘No continent has a monopoly on violence and conquest.’
      • ‘The concept of peace is open, like freedom and justice, with no culture having any monopoly on its definition.’
      • ‘Chew's success demonstrates that professional historians have no monopoly on environmental history.’
      • ‘Today, however, the show is generally acknowledged as a landmark event that cracked the West's monopoly on contemporary art.’
      • ‘Architects have no unique insights into these questions and have no monopoly on the answers but, as citizens, they have as much to offer as anyone else.’
      • ‘Small island states often make mistakes, but they have no monopoly on error.’
      • ‘I felt that, as a person with the disease, I'd have a sort of monopoly on jokes about it.’
  • 2trademark A board game in which players engage in simulated property and financial dealings using imitation money. It was invented in the US and the name was coined by Charles Darrow c.1935.

    • ‘Just an empty lot, about the size of a Monopoly board.’
    • ‘Sales were helped by a Monopoly game promotion.’
    • ‘Hmmm… I know they often say ‘hailstones the size of golf balls,’ but this seemed to be more like a hailstone the size of a Monopoly hotel.’
    • ‘To your left, dotted all around, are the byres which characterise the region, their uniformity and neat, pitched roofs reminiscent of houses on a Monopoly board.’
    • ‘He has spent thousands of pounds on the collection which includes a Batman and Robin version of Monopoly, a Monopoly fruit machine and a specially-made wooden board worth £700.’


Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek monopōlion, from monos ‘single’ + pōlein ‘sell’.