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[kom-uh-sahr, kom-uh-sahr] /ˈkɒm əˌsɑr, ˌkɒm əˈsɑr/
the head of any of the major governmental divisions of the U.S.S.R.: called minister since 1946.
an official in any communist government whose duties include political indoctrination, detection of political deviation, etc.
Origin of commissar
1915-20; < Russian komissár < German Kommissar < Medieval Latin commissārius commissary Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for commissar
Historical Examples
  • He is the commissar of the 'Cheka' and she is the agent of this establishment.

    Beasts, Men and Gods Ferdinand Ossendowski
  • It is not true that "every commissar in Russia to-day is a Jew."

  • When the latter passed a vote of censure upon the activities of a commissar, he could practically do nothing more.

    The Russian Turmoil

    Anton Ivanovich Denikin
  • The assistants of the commissar were at the time away on duty, and Iordansky himself in Zhitomir.

    The Russian Turmoil

    Anton Ivanovich Denikin
  • Surely you must realize that the commissar is one of the busiest men in Transbalkania, Comrade.

    Expediter Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • One commissar was appointed by agreement between the Government and the Soviet.

    The Russian Turmoil

    Anton Ivanovich Denikin
  • That commissar, according to the Commanding Officers, is undoubtedly useful.

    The Russian Turmoil

    Anton Ivanovich Denikin
  • The commissar began to protest heatedly, but Josip Pekic shook his head and tried to firm his less than dominating voice.

    Expediter Dallas McCord Reynolds
British Dictionary definitions for commissar


/ˈkɒmɪˌsɑː; ˌkɒmɪˈsɑː/
noun (in the former Soviet Union)
Also called political commissar. an official of the Communist Party responsible for political education, esp in a military unit
Also called People's Commissar. (before 1946) the head of a government department Now called minister
Word Origin
C20: from Russian kommissar, from German, from Medieval Latin commissāriuscommissary
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for commissar

1918, from Russian komissar, from German Kommissar "commissioner," from French, ultimately from Medieval Latin commissarius (see commissary).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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commissar in Culture
commissar [(kom-uh-sahr)]

In various communist systems of government, an official assigned to a group to ensure the group's conformity to Communist party doctrine. The heads of government departments in the former Soviet Union were called commissars.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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