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

  • n. A government in which a single ruler is vested with absolute power.
  • n. The office, authority, or jurisdiction of an absolute ruler.
  • n. Absolute power, especially when exercised unjustly or cruelly: "I have sworn . . . eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man” ( Thomas Jefferson).
  • n. Use of absolute power.
  • n. A tyrannical act.
  • n. Extreme harshness or severity; rigor.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A government in which a single ruler (a tyrant) has absolute power.
  • n. The office or jurisdiction of an absolute ruler.
  • n. Absolute power, or its use.
  • n. Extreme severity or rigour.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The government or authority of a tyrant; a country governed by an absolute ruler; hence, arbitrary or despotic exercise of power; exercise of power over subjects and others with a rigor not authorized by law or justice, or not requisite for the purposes of government.
  • n. Cruel government or discipline.
  • n. Severity; rigor; inclemency.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The rule of a tyrant in the ancient sense; the personal government of one of the Greek tyrants; a state or government having an uncontrolled ruler bearing the title of tyrant.
  • n. The office or incumbency of a tyrant; a tyrant's administration or tenure; the system of government by tyrants.
  • n. Hence A tyrannical government; a lawless autocracy or despotism.
  • n. Arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of anthority; unmerciful rule.
  • n. A tyrannical action or proceeding; an instance of despotic rule or conduct.
  • n. Severity; harshness; stringency.
  • n. Synonyms Despotism, Autocracy, etc. See despotism.
  • n. Oppression, Despotism, etc. See oppression.

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

  • n. a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.)
  • n. dominance through threat of punishment and violence


Middle English tyrannie, from Old French, from Late Latin tyrannia, from Greek turanniā, from turannos, tyrant.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Medieval Latin tyrannia, tyrania, from Ancient Greek τυραννία (turannia, "tyranny"), from τύραννος (turannos, "lord, master, sovereign, tyrrant"). (Wiktionary)



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