Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom: an authoritarian regime.
  • adj. Of, relating to, or expecting unquestioning obedience. See Synonyms at dictatorial.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of, or relating to, absolute obedience to an authority.
  • adj. Characterised by a tyrannical obedience to an authority; dictatorial.
  • adj. Tending to impose one's demands upon others as if one was an authority.
  • n. One who commands absolute obedience to his or her authority.
  • n. One who follows and is excessively obedient to authority.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. characteristic of an absolute ruler or absolute rule; having absolute sovereignty; -- of governments or rulers
  • adj. expecting unquestioning obedience: "he was imperious and dictatorial"; "the timid child of authoritarian parents"; "insufferably overbearing behavior toward the waiter"
  • n. behaves like a tyrant.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Favoring the principle of authority, as opposed to that of individual freedom.
  • n. One who supports the principle of authority, as opposed to that of individual freedom.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. expecting unquestioning obedience
  • n. a person who behaves in a tyrannical manner
  • adj. characteristic of an absolute ruler or absolute rule; having absolute sovereignty

Etymologies

Circa 1880 authority +‎ -arian (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term authoritarian is used to describe an organization or a state which enforces strong and sometimes oppressive measures against those in its sphere of influence, generally without attempts at gaining their consent and often not allowing feedback on its policies.

    Authority and Objectivity

  • Frustrated by what they characterize as authoritarian work environments and less-generous pay scales - the typical new hire makes 30% less under the FAA's imposed terms - many veteran controllers have opted to retire in recent years.

    Former Pilots-Union Chief Has Inside Track to Lead FAA

  • It openly proclaimed itself in favour of what it described as authoritarian rule.

    ANC Today

  • But 11 of those lawmakers have since broken with Chavez and his left-leaning coalition, citing what they call his authoritarian tendencies.

    ajc.com - News

  • But 11 of those politicians since broke with Mr Chavez and his left-leaning coalition, citing what they call his authoritarian tendencies.

    WalesOnline - Home

  • Georgians once widely admired Saakashvili, 41, as an energetic, pro-Western reformist, but many were disillusioned by what they describe as his authoritarian bent.

    Forbes.com: News

  • Widespread skepticism is undermining Saakashvili's claims about the war, emboldening former allies angry about the botched conflict and alienated by what they call his authoritarian style.

    Kentucky.com: Homepage

  • Even so, I'm pretty confident that labeling wide swaths of the American public as "authoritarian" is politically disadvantageous.

    May 2008

  • I realize that "authoritarian" is a strong word, but I will use it nevertheless, for it helps us understand the dynamic of American politics in the last two decades.

    Balkinization

  • Let's make technology useful and safe for netizens in authoritarian regimes!

    Boing Boing

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