Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An absolute ruler.
  • noun A tyrant; a despot.
  • noun An ancient Roman magistrate appointed temporarily to deal with an immediate crisis or emergency.
  • noun One who dictates.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A person possessing unlimited powers of government; an absolute ruler.
  • noun A person invested with or exercising absolute authority of any kind; one who assumes to control or prescribe the actions of others; one who dictates.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun One who dictates; one who prescribes rules and maxims authoritatively for the direction of others.
  • noun One invested with absolute authority; especially, a magistrate created in times of exigence and distress, and invested with unlimited power.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Originally, a magistrate without colleague in republican ancient Rome, who held full executive authority for a term granted by the senate (legislature), typically to conduct a war
  • noun A totalitarian leader of a country, nation, or government
  • noun A tyrannical boss, or authority figure
  • noun A person who dictates text (e.g. letters to a clerk)
  • noun A ruler or Führer, the highest level of authority.

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

  • noun a speaker who dictates to a secretary or a recording machine
  • noun a person who behaves in a tyrannical manner
  • noun a ruler who is unconstrained by law

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin dictātor ("a chief magistrate"), from dictō ("dictate, prescribe"), from dīcō ("say, speak").

Examples

  • In seasons of great and imminent danger to the commonwealth, it was the custom of the Romans to appoint what they called a dictator, that is, a supreme executive, who was clothed with absolute and unlimited powers; and it devolved on him to save the state from the threatened ruin by the most prompt and energetic action.

    Hannibal Makers of History

  • Less than nine years past the end of Saddam Hussein's brutal reign, the word dictator springs easily to the lips of Iraqis, many of whom question Western-style democracy and readily admit that they believe their country needs a strongman leader.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • Less than nine years past the end of Saddam Hussein's brutal reign, the word dictator springs easily to the lips of Iraqis, many of whom question Western-style democracy and readily admit that they believe their country needs a strongman leader.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • With this in mind, having multiple characters use the word "dictator" to refer to Chavez without any real discussion seems simplistic at best.

    Ask Matt: The Good Wife, The Killing, and More!

  • Were people intrigued by the plight of the individual versus society, as depicted with such pessimistic intensity by Orwell, supposed to be drawn into the world of Slan, where it turns out that the dictator is a good guy, just a little misunderstood?

    MIND MELD: What You Should Know About Speculative Fiction and Mainstream Acceptance (Part 2)

  • I am not sure you can call this a liberal agenda as I am a die hard lib and a dictator is a dictator, pure and simple and most famous dictators shower outright abuse of the people they were suppose to govern.

    Sean Penn heads to Cuba: Hooray or yawn? | EW.com

  • Being named after a dictator is about all that needs to be said about this guy, and all those who wish to share the name.

    Supporting Barack Hussein Obama

  • The powers of a Roman dictator were infinite but only for six months and under very well defined conditions - not at all like what we call a dictator today.

    Hannity's New TV Show Bestows A Weekly "Enemy Of The State" Award

  • “Rebuilding a nation devastated by a dictator is a large undertaking,”

    Think Progress » “The Bush administration

  • WHAT?????????? “Rebuilding a nation devastated by a dictator is a large undertaking, ” the president said. “It†™ s even harder when terrorists are trying to blow up that which the Iraqis are trying to build. ”

    Think Progress » “The Bush administration

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