[ uh-thawr-i-tair-ee-uhn, uh-thor- ]
See synonyms for: authoritarianauthoritarianism on

  1. favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom: authoritarian principles; authoritarian attitudes.

  2. of or relating to a governmental or political system, principle, or practice in which individual freedom is held as completely subordinate to the power or authority of the state, centered either in one person or a small group that is not constitutionally accountable to the people.

  1. exercising complete or almost complete control over the will of another or of others: an authoritarian parent.

  1. a person who favors or acts according to authoritarian principles.

Origin of authoritarian

First recorded in 1875–80; authorit(y) + -arian

Other words from authoritarian

  • au·thor·i·tar·i·an·ism, noun
  • an·ti·au·thor·i·tar·i·an, adjective
  • an·ti·au·thor·i·tar·i·an·ism, noun
  • non·au·thor·i·tar·i·an, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use authoritarian in a sentence

  • He has to reverse the social current until it swings back to authoritarianism—with him riding the crest.

    The Sensitive Man | Poul William Anderson
  • The tory and whig groups were known by their disagreement over the authoritarianism of the Crown.

  • Both tend to undermine social, political, and religious authoritarianism.

    Benjamin Franklin | Frank Luther Mott

British Dictionary definitions for authoritarian


/ (ɔːˌθɒrɪˈtɛərɪən) /

  1. favouring, denoting, or characterized by strict obedience to authority

  2. favouring, denoting, or relating to government by a small elite with wide powers

  1. despotic; dictatorial; domineering

  1. a person who favours or practises authoritarian policies

Derived forms of authoritarian

  • authoritarianism, noun

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