Definition of tyrannical in English:



  • 1Exercising power in a cruel or arbitrary way.

    ‘her father was portrayed as tyrannical and unloving’
    • ‘Anne had told me that Dominic had become cruel and tyrannical.’
    • ‘Absolutist tyrannies are far more likely than democracies to breed absolutist tyrannical resistance groups willing to do anything to fight back.’
    • ‘Indeed, opposition to tyrannical powers is the highest expression of patriotism, American style.’
    • ‘He has become a student of one of the most tyrannical leaders in history.’
    • ‘Both were wars of choice, waged against tyrannical regimes that did not immediately threaten the United States.’
    • ‘Local officials are portrayed as corrupt and tyrannical but the central leadership is described as paying serious attention to the problems.’
    • ‘It is hard to imagine that a person could support such a tyrannical regime.’
    • ‘Cruel and tyrannical, he consciously sought to make himself a despot.’
    • ‘Finding the strict regime unnecessarily repressive on the kids, he drafts them into a choir, much to the chagrin of the tyrannical head teacher.’
    • ‘The West backs up the most tyrannical regimes throughout the region.’
    • ‘They do not speak honestly about some of the world's most tyrannical regimes.’
    • ‘If not, we will be waging military campaigns against new tyrannical regimes over and over again.’
    • ‘New Zealanders have those freedoms, which set us apart from tyrannical regimes where Governments tell people what they can and cannot do.’
    • ‘In our society it is not the tyrannical regimes with dictatorial and despotic power that destroys our freedom.’
    • ‘Then why does he become so tyrannical when he's questioned?’
    • ‘No, they would not let themselves fall under some cruel tyrannical usurper.’
    • ‘So private tyrannies become tyrannical by buying up some of the trade policies of democratic governments.’
    • ‘But she couldn't imagine Drake being cruel and tyrannical.’
    • ‘The problem is not simply that we allow arms suppliers to the poor and tyrannical to operate in this country; it is much worse.’
    • ‘When the people were attacked, they would rally behind their dear leader, no matter how tyrannical or cruel he was.’
    dictatorial, despotic, autocratic, oppressive, repressive, fascistic, tyrannous, absolute, totalitarian, arbitrary, undemocratic, anti-democratic, illiberal
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    1. 1.1 Characteristic of tyranny; oppressive and controlling.
      ‘a momentary quieting of her tyrannical appetite’
      • ‘Diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions, for example, are useful means of engagement with tyrannical regimes.’
      • ‘But he was forced to flee to Athens when the revolt was crushed, and was prosecuted for having held tyrannical power in Chersonesus.’
      • ‘Not that their rule was considered tyrannical or arbitrary.’
      • ‘It wasn't a victory for liberty, only a transition from one tyranny to another, because ANY system of governance is, to some extent, tyrannical.’
      • ‘There was no way he was going to give up or moderate his tyrannical power except at the barrel of a gun.’
      • ‘Our aim was to free the public from tyrannical and illegal behaviour, to annihilate anarchy and strengthen the central government.’
      • ‘The Federation was a growing tyrannical power that was spreading across the Earth at an alarming rate, due to its vast military strength.’
      • ‘Of course, the consent decrees were originally put into action because the police abused their power to a tyrannical level.’
      • ‘Melanie is thrust into an unfamiliar family full of secrets, where Uncle Phillip pulls the strings, creating a tyrannical hold over the household.’
      • ‘He declared it to be anti-democratic and tyrannical.’
      • ‘The complete right to organize for political ends guards against the danger that majorities might impose tyrannical legislation.’
      • ‘The thirteen colonies began with a defensive revolution against tyrannical oppression and they were victorious.’
      • ‘It is the democratic left which should be most enraged by the history of that tyrannical empire and by the good men and women who compromised the cause by sticking with it.’
      • ‘Religious sects have also been templates on which hierarchies form, with ideal opportunities for individual men to wield tyrannical power.’
      • ‘Is it not then our job to reduce the tyrannical power of our government and once again allow men to live, trade and interact as they see fit?’
      • ‘He aims to create a new majority of right-wingers that can wreak tyrannical havoc over the rest of us.’
      • ‘That would have taught us all a salutary lesson against tyrannical and unjustified government action, wouldn't it?’
      • ‘The second is that tyrannical oppression is a paradigmatic offense against the natural order.’
      • ‘The course of David's own career was held to express an unhealthy identity of tyrannical power with pedagogical authority.’
      • ‘Only their lack of a tradition of liberty has held them back by keeping them under the control of tyrannical governments.’


Mid 16th century: from Old French tyrannique, via Latin from Greek turannikos, from turannos (see tyrant).