[kom-uh-sahr, kom-uh-sahr]


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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for commissar

Historical Examples of commissar

  • 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.


    Dallas McCord Reynolds

British Dictionary definitions for commissar


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 departmentNow called: minister

Word Origin for commissar

C20: from Russian kommissar, from German, from Medieval Latin commissārius commissary
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 commissar

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

commissar in Culture



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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.