Definitions

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

  • n. A leader or chief, especially a military dictator.
  • n. A political boss; an overlord.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. leader
  • n. A military dictator, especially one ruling in Latin America.

Etymologies

Spanish, leader, from Late Latin capitellum, diminutive of Latin caput, head; see kaput- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Spanish caudillo, from Late Latin capitellum, based on Latin caput, capitis "head". (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In more institutionalized political cultures like Chile's or Mexico's, the term caudillo has become faintly derisive.

    The Return of the Caudillo

  • RN You seem to be fascinated by the charisma of the Latin American 'caudillo', leaders such as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

    Red Pepper

  • With his permanent tan and slick white mane, he’s more like a kinder, gentler Latin American caudillo, who wants nothing more than to be cheered on by adoring throngs.

    Charlie Crist is the diversity candidate? NRSC FAIL - Erick’s blog - RedState

  • A classic Latin American caudillo, or strongman, Mr. Chávez has developed an emotional, direct and personal relationship with Venezuela's poor masses akin to that of a televangelist.

    Chávez Roils Venezuela With Return

  • ("At first glance, he was just your typical Latin American caudillo," Díaz writes, "but his power was terminal in ways that few historians or writers have ever truly captured or, I would argue, imagined.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Besides, I have never been seen as a caudillo, which is fortunate, because being a caudillo must be a disgrace.

    First Ibero-American Summit Concludes

  • Regional "presidents and party leaders are looking over their shoulders (concerned about the) specter (they) thought they had safely interred: that of the populist demagogue, the authoritarian man on horseback known as the caudillo (strongman)" taking power.

    Signs of the Times

  • For if anything was certain in the old Spain, it was that the caudillo was the King of Kings: whereas Jesús, I was to discover some years later, had a propensity for becoming a quean of something-or-other.

    DC's

  • Calling Chavez a "caudillo," (a strongman or military dictator), the editorial accused him of "public bluster" after withdrawing his ambassador and diplomatic staff from Colombia and "threaten (ing) to close the border to trade" for reasons the Post omitted.

    Printing: Will Venezuelan Destabilization Follow the Honduran Coup?

  • Under Lapi there was an occasional sign with his face, personality cult is always part of countries with a past "caudillo" culture.

    The field guide for the Bolivarian Socialism for the XXI Century

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