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despot

[des-puh t, -pot]
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noun
  1. a king or other ruler with absolute, unlimited power; autocrat.
  2. any tyrant or oppressor.
  3. History/Historical. an honorary title applied to a Byzantine emperor, afterward to members of his family, and later to Byzantine vassal rulers and governors.

Origin of despot

1555–65; < Greek despótēs master < *dems-pot- presumably, “master of the house,” equivalent to *dems-, akin to dómos house + pot-, base of pósis husband, spouse; cf. hospodar, host1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for despot

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Other arts were employed by the despot for the attainment of his desires.

  • The legislator must purify them, and if he be not a despot he will find this task to be a difficult one.

    Laws

    Plato

  • Isn't it almost enough to justify a man like Rossi that he has to meet a despot like that?

  • He had dethroned the despot, and the honors were his by right of conquest.

  • Or if there is a despot, 'tis the king's jester, who laughs at the king as well as all his subjects.


British Dictionary definitions for despot

despot

noun
  1. an absolute or tyrannical ruler; autocrat or tyrant
  2. any person in power who acts tyrannically
  3. a title borne by numerous persons of rank in the later Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empiresthe despot of Servia
Derived Formsdespotic (dɛsˈpɒtɪk) or despotical, adjectivedespotically, adverb

Word Origin

C16: from Medieval Latin despota, from Greek despotēs lord, master; related to Latin domus house
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

Word Origin and History for despot

n.

1560s, "absolute ruler," from Old French despot (14c.), from Medieval Latin despota, from Greek despotes "master of a household, lord, absolute ruler," from PIE *dems-pota-; for first element see domestic (adj.); second element cognate with Latin potis, potens (see potent).

Faintly pejorative in Greek, progressively more so as used in various languages for Roman emperors, Christian rulers of Ottoman provinces, and Louis XVI during the French Revolution. The female equivalent was despoina "lady, queen, mistress," source of the proper name Despina.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper