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

  • noun Naval or commercial supremacy on the seas.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Same as thalassocraty.

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

  • noun a state whose power derives from its naval or commercial supremacy on the seas
  • noun maritime supremacy


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

[Greek thalassokratiā : thalassa, sea + -kratiā, -cracy.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Ancient Greek θαλασσοκρατέω (thalassakrateō, "to be master of the sea"), from θάλασσα (thalassa, "sea") + κράτος (kratos, "rule")


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  • It is often said, for example, that Evans was interpreting Minoan civilization and the basis of its power in the early second millennium BC according to the model of the British Empire: the Minoan control of the sea ( "thalassocracy") was a reflection of the power of the British navy.

    Knossos: Fakes, Facts, and Mystery Beard, Mary 2009

  • According to Thucydides, he also established the first thalassocracy, or maritime empire.

    First Minoan Shipwreck 2010

  • To what extent these changing trade patterns reflect political events is unknown, but legend has Crete's King Minos founding a sea empire (thalassocracy).

    b. The Minoan Civilization 2001

  • However, your final point does have the quality of a point being stretched quite some distance It is clear however that Mr Barelegs did indeed view Ireland as being part of his sphere of influence (if he can be considered a true embodiement of a Viking thalassocracy, as I'm not sure any other leader could command such authority over the differing kingdoms). - 3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,27,28,29,30,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,41,42,48,49,50,52 2009

  • One of the issues that I was interested in when I was doing my degree was the extent to which the Viking thalassocracy ever seriously viewed Ireland as a candidate for political / military conquest in the way, for example, that England and Northern France were. - 3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,27,28,29,30,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,41,42,48,49,50,52 2009

  • In a nutshell, for the past two centuries, the international system of diplomacy has centered around the efforts by the Anglosphere to maintain a thalassocracy, a control of the world's sea lanes, so as to facilitate free markets and the rising prosperity fostered by capitalism.

    Latest Articles 2009

  • And Obama appears bound and determined to do everything he can to reduce the ability of the American thalassocracy to maintain a stable economic, and therefore political, order in the world.

    Latest Articles 2009

  • As one archaeologist has recently ” and crassly ” put it, Evans's Minoans were "travelling and trading all over the Mediterranean, thanks to their British (sorry, Minoan) ˜thalassocracy. '" [

    Knossos: Fakes, Facts, and Mystery Beard, Mary 2009

  • Polykrates became "the first of all cities, Hellenic or barbaric," a center of Ionian manners, luxury, art, science and culture, the seat of the first great thalassocracy or sea-power after that of Cretan Minos, a distributing point for commerce and colonies. [

    Influences of Geographic Environment On the Basis of Ratzel's System of Anthropo-Geography Ellen Churchill Semple 1897


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  • I wonder if this word could be applied to sea powers in general, e.g. Venice in the 13th and 14th centuries (with regard to the Eastern Mediterranean), Spain in the 16th, or Britain in 19th?

    August 19, 2008

  • Venice about that time is a classic example of a thalassocracy. Spain or England is less good, as they had extensive land-based colonies. A thalassocracy is where the power is almost 100% in ships and islands and trade, i.e. early Renaissance Venice, classical Athens, or (the ultimate example) the mediaeval-era Hanseatic League of the North and Baltic Seas.

    August 19, 2008

  • I see. Thanks, kind-heartedness.

    August 19, 2008

  • Ahh, the Hanseatic League! I didn't know there was a word for this. Thanks.

    August 20, 2008

  • It just occurred to me that this word is different from other -cracy words. Whereas words like democracy, aristocracy, plutocracy, gerontocracy, etc. the -cracy element means "rule by" the group signified in the first element (e.g. the people, the nobility, the rich, the old), in thalassocracy the meaning seems to be "rule over the sea" or perhaps "rule based on the sea."

    August 26, 2008

  • could this word be loosely used, in lieu of its' overwhelming naval superiority on the worlds seas, in reference to the USA.

    December 29, 2010

  • I think you mean "in light of", not "in lieu of". I noticed the same solecism in a letter to our local paper recently.

    December 30, 2010