Definitions

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

  • noun One who has the power and position to rule over others; a monarch.
  • noun One who dominates or leads a group or an endeavor.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A trade-name of an explosive consisting of a mixture of finely divided guncotton (about 45 to 65 per cent.) with potassium nitrate.
  • noun A person who possesses power or sway; a prince; sovereign; monarch; ruler.
  • noun A power; state; sovereignty.

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

  • noun One who is potent; one who possesses great power or sway; a prince, sovereign, or monarch.

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

  • noun A powerful leader; a monarch; a ruler

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

  • noun a ruler who is unconstrained by law

Etymologies

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

[Middle English potentat, from Old French, from Late Latin potentātus, from Latin, power, from potēns, present participle of posse, to be able; see potent.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English potentat, from Old French, from Late Latin potentātus ("rule, political power"), from Latin potēns ("powerful, strong"), the active present participle of possum ("I am able").

Examples

  • Nothing helps her more than to be attacked by her enemies (think of the phenomenon as a slightly bizarre twist on FDR's maxim about an unsavory Latin American potentate: "He may be an S.O.B., but he's our S.O.B.").

    Lessons Learned From Last Time

  • The world has never seen a meaner scoundrel, and we may almost bring ourselves to pity the Kaiser, whom circumstances have forced to accept on equal terms a potentate so verminous.

    Raemaekers' Cartoons With Accompanying Notes by Well-known English Writers

  • He was simply treating his god as he would have treated a powerful earthly patron or potentate, that is, he was apologising for anything he might have done to alienate his favour.

    The New Theology

  • All expenses are picked up by taxpayers around the world and he has instant access to any foreign potentate, which is very helpful for his business interests

    Home | Mail Online

  • "I'm hanged if I'll stand on ceremony with the chap, if he is some kind of potentate," Carleton grumbled; and, interrupting the conversation, asked Mary if she were of the same mind about being his passenger for a flight.

    The Guests Of Hercules

  • Switzerland is trying hard to shed its reputation as a favored location for "potentate"

    SFGate: Top News Stories

  • Switzerland is trying hard to shed its reputation as a favored location for "potentate"

    chron.com Chronicle

  • By his agency, and his dealings with the native tribes, he had acquired great wealth, and become a kind of potentate in the Indian country.

    Life of George Washington — Volume 01

  • Switzerland has traditionally been a favorite location for "potentate" money because of its banking secrecy rules.

    WBAY Action 2 News

  • Any sillier than the U.S. naturalization oath that requires you to "absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty"?

    Mexican citizenship test--fun!

Comments

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  • Mind, they say, rules the world -- and what rules the mind but the body? And the body lies at the mercy of that most omnipotent of all mortal potentates: the Chemist.

    Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White

    May 27, 2009