Definitions

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

  • n. A male monarch or emperor, especially one of the emperors who ruled Russia until the revolution of 1917.
  • n. A person having great power; an autocrat: "the square-jawed, ruddy complacency of Jack Farrell, the czar of the Fifteenth Street police station” ( Ernest Hemingway).
  • n. Informal An appointed official having special powers to regulate or supervise an activity: a racetrack czar; an energy czar.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Alternative spelling of tsar.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A king; a chief; the title of the emperor of Russia.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An emperor; a king; specifically, the common title of the Emperor of Russia.
  • n. An article of dress, apparently a cravat, in use in the early part of the eighteenth century: probably named in compliment to Peter the Great, who visited England in 1698.

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

  • n. a person having great power
  • n. a male monarch or emperor (especially of Russia prior to 1917)

Etymologies

Russian tsar', from Old Russian tsĭsarĭ, emperor, king, from Old Church Slavonic tsěsarĭ, from Gothic kaisar, from Greek, from Latin Caesar, emperor; see caesar.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Russian царь (tsar'), from Latin Caesar. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term "czar" dates back to Franklin Roosevelt's administration.

    GOP lawmaker blasts Obama for ignoring Congress on 'czars'

  • JOHN WALTERS, BUSH ADMINISTRATION DRUG CZAR: Well, with the title czar, you are asking for it.

    CNN Transcript Jun 15, 2009

  • COSTELLO: But the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato, who wrote the "Year of Obama" says the title czar is mostly to make the tough government job sound more attractive.

    CNN Transcript Jun 15, 2009

  • I mean, I-- everyone always, it seems to me, throws out the term czar when they don't know what else to do.

    CNN Transcript Dec 8, 2008

  • I mean, everyone always seems to me throws out the term czar when they don't know what else to do.

    CNN Transcript Dec 8, 2008

  • ‡ The term czar is sometimes applied generally to a powerful leader or to a government administrator with wide-ranging powers.

    czar

  • Nobody over there uses the term czar, so I can't figure out why we would either.

    billingsgazette.com

  • The word czar comes from the Russian tsar which in turn was derived from the Latin Caesar.

    South Dakota Politics

  • "I would imagine if anybody who would merit the title czar would look a lot deeper than just the record," he said.

    StAugustine.com

  • Not to nit-pick, but the sugar import quota czar is apparently a “she” – not a “he.”

    Matthew Yglesias » Public Sector Pay

Comments

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  • Some less-imposing Russian rulers.

    August 26, 2008

  • Pronounced: k-ZAR. Ugly, shoddily-made automobile from any ex-Soviet bloc country.

    April 8, 2008

  • Also note that the American political usage of this word to mean the person who's been appointed to oversee a certain area or problem, is always spelt czar: drug czar, AIDS czar, etc.

    December 17, 2007

  • From the Online Etymology Dictionary:
    "The spelling with cz- is against the usage of all Slavonic languages; the word was so spelt by Herberstein, Rerum Moscovit. Commentarii, 1549, the chief early source of knowledge as to Russia in Western Europe, whence it passed into the Western Languages generally; in some of these it is now old-fashioned; the usual Ger. form is now zar; French adopted tsar during the 19th c. This also became frequent in English towards the end of that century, having been adopted by the Times newspaper as the most suitable English spelling. OED"

    December 17, 2007