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

  • n. An absolute ruler who governs without restrictions.
  • n. A ruler who exercises power in a harsh, cruel manner.
  • n. An oppressive, harsh, arbitrary person.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An absolute ruler who governs without restriction.
  • n. A harsh and cruel ruler.
  • n. An oppressive, cruel and harsh person.
  • v. To act like a tyrant; to be tyrannical.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An absolute ruler; a sovereign unrestrained by law or constitution; a usurper of sovereignty.
  • n. Specifically, a monarch, or other ruler or master, who uses power to oppress his subjects; a person who exercises unlawful authority, or lawful authority in an unlawful manner; one who by taxation, injustice, or cruel punishment, or the demand of unreasonable services, imposes burdens and hardships on those under his control, which law and humanity do not authorize, or which the purposes of government do not require; a cruel master; an oppressor.
  • n. Any one of numerous species of American clamatorial birds belonging to the family Tyrannidæ; -- called also tyrant bird.
  • intransitive v. To act like a tyrant; to play the tyrant; be to tyrannical.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In ancient Greece, an irresponsible chief or magistrate with unlimited powers, owing his office primarily to insurrection or usurpation.
  • n. Hence A wilfully arbitrary monarch or person in authority; a ruler or master who uses his power cruelly or oppressively; any person who treats those bound to him in any way as slaves to his will; an autocratic oppressor.
  • n. A tyrannical or compulsory influence; something that constrains the will inexorably; an overruling power.
  • n. In ornithology, a tyrant-flycatcher; one of the Tyrannidæ.
  • To tyrannize over.
  • To play the tyrant; tyrannize: sometimes with indefinite it.

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

  • n. any person who exercises power in a cruel way
  • n. in ancient Greece, a ruler who had seized power without legal right to it
  • n. a cruel and oppressive dictator


Middle English, from Old French, alteration of tyran, from Latin tyrannus, from Greek turannos.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French tirant (French tyran), from Latin tyrannus, from Ancient Greek τύραννος (turannos, "lord, master, sovereign, tyrant"). (Wiktionary)



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