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[muh-nop-uh-lee] /məˈnɒp ə li/
noun, plural monopolies.
exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices.
Compare duopoly, oligopoly.
an exclusive privilege to carry on a business, traffic, or service, granted by a government.
the exclusive possession or control of something.
something that is the subject of such control, as a commodity or service.
a company or group that has such control.
the market condition that exists when there is only one seller.
(initial capital letter) a board game in which a player attempts to gain a monopoly of real estate by advancing around the board and purchasing property, acquiring capital by collecting rent from other players whose pieces land on that property.
Origin of monopoly
1525-35; < Latin monopōlium < Greek monopṓlion right of exclusive sale, equivalent to mono- mono- + pōl(eîn) to sell + -ion noun suffix
Related forms
monopoloid, adjective
antimonopoly, adjective
premonopoly, noun, plural premonopolies, adjective
promonopoly, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for monopolies
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • monopolies do harm on the whole, but they certainly elevate the favoured few.

    Homeward Bound James Fenimore Cooper
  • I require the abolition of privileges, of titles, and of monopolies.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • For instance, he got after the monopolies, and the cost of living is twenty per cent.

    The Plum Tree David Graham Phillips
  • Railroads are owned by governments in most countries, and monopolies often are.

    Socialism As It Is William English Walling
  • monopolies of this kind are begotten by fraud and nurtured by error.

British Dictionary definitions for monopolies


noun (pl) -lies
exclusive control of the market supply of a product or service
  1. an enterprise exercising this control
  2. the product or service so controlled
(law) the exclusive right or privilege granted to a person, company, etc, by the state to purchase, manufacture, use, or sell some commodity or to carry on trade in a specified country or area
exclusive control, possession, or use of something
Derived Forms
monopolism, noun
monopolist, noun
monopolistic, adjective
monopolistically, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin, from Greek monopōlion, from mono- + pōlein to sell


trademark a board game for two to six players who throw dice to advance their tokens around a board, the object being to acquire the property on which their tokens land
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 monopolies



"exclusive control of a commodity or trade," 1530s, from Latin monopolium, from Greek monopolion "right of exclusive sale," from mono- + polein "to sell," from PIE root *pel- (5) "to sell" (cf. Sanskrit panate "barters, purchases," Lithuanian pelnas "gain," Old Church Slavonic splenu, Russian polon "prey, booty," Old Norse falr, Dutch veil, German feil "for sale, venal").

Alternative form monopole (1540s, from the Old French form of the word) was common in 16c. The popular board game, invented by Charles Darrow, is from 1935. Monopoly money "unreal currency" is attested from 1972, in reference to the paper used in the game.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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monopolies in Culture

monopoly definition

The exclusive control by one company of a service or product.

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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