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[tir-uh-nee] /ˈtɪr ə ni/
noun, plural tyrannies.
arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.
the government or rule of a tyrant or absolute ruler.
a state ruled by a tyrant or absolute ruler.
oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.
undue severity or harshness.
a cruel or harsh act or proceeding; an arbitrary, oppressive, or tyrannical action.
Origin of tyranny
1325-75; Middle English tyrannie < Old French < Medieval Latin tyrannia, equivalent to Latin tyrann(us) tyrant + -ia -y3
Related forms
pretyranny, noun, plural pretyrannies. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for tyrannies
Historical Examples
  • And yet all that Seneca's daring could venture was to seduce the baby-tyrant into the least injurious of tyrannies.

    If, Yes and Perhaps Edward Everett Hale
  • The people of Lodi prayed his protection against the tyrannies of Milan.

  • He thought he was done for the rest of his life with the "exactions" and "tyrannies" of the King of Prussia.

  • The tyrannies were at their height in the time of Polycrates and his brother Syloson.

  • James was already a growing boy when the last and worst of the tyrannies which oppressed his youth began.

    Royal Edinburgh Margaret Oliphant
  • Only they think that the present tyrannies provoke resistance.

  • There may have been a few instances in history where such was the case, but tyrannies of that kind have never lasted long.

    The Behavior of Crowds Everett Dean Martin
  • But there are other tyrannies coincident which are more urgent and compelling.

    The Drunkard Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • A great deal of nonsense is talked about the "tyrannies" which the Monastic Age inflicted on Art.

    Holbein Beatrice Fortescue
  • They had freed their souls from the tyrannies of time and the fear of death.

    The Glory of the Trenches Coningsby Dawson
British Dictionary definitions for tyrannies


noun (pl) -nies
  1. government by a tyrant or tyrants; despotism
  2. similarly oppressive and unjust government by more than one person
arbitrary, unreasonable, or despotic behaviour or use of authority: the teacher's tyranny
any harsh discipline or oppression: the tyranny of the clock
a political unit ruled by a tyrant
(esp in ancient Greece) government by a usurper
a tyrannical act
Derived Forms
tyrannous, adjective
tyrannously, adverb
tyrannousness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French tyrannie, from Medieval Latin tyrannia, from Latin tyrannustyrant
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 tyrannies



late 14c., "cruel or unjust use of power," from Old French tyrannie (13c.), from Late Latin tyrannia "tyranny," from Greek tyrannia "rule of a tyrant," from tyrannos "master" (see tyrant).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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