Definitions

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

  • n. Government by a few, especially by a small faction of persons or families.
  • n. Those making up such a government.
  • n. A state governed by a few persons.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A government run by only a few, often the wealthy.
  • n. Those who make up an oligarchic government.
  • n. A state ruled by such a government.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A form of government in which the supreme power is placed in the hands of a few persons; also, those who form the ruling few.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the hands of a small exclusive class; also, collectively, those who form such a class or body.

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

  • n. a political system governed by a few people

Etymologies

From French oligarchie, from Latin oligarchia, from Ancient Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarchia), from ὀλίγος (oligos, "few") + ἀρχή (archē, "rule"). From oligo- + -archy (Wiktionary)

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