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czar

or tsar, tzar

[zahr, tsahr]
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noun
  1. an emperor or king.
  2. (often initial capital letter) the former emperor of Russia.
  3. an autocratic ruler or leader.
  4. any person exercising great authority or power in a particular field: a czar of industry.
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Origin of czar

1545–55; < Russian tsar', Old Russian tsĭsarĭ emperor, king (akin to Old Church Slavonic tsěsarĭ) < Gothic kaisar emperor (< Greek or Latin); Greek kaîsar < Latin Caesar Caesar
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for czar

czar

noun
  1. a variant spelling (esp US) of tsar
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Derived Formsczardom, 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

Word Origin and History for czar

n.

1550s, from Russian tsar, from Old Slavic tsesari, from Gothic kaisar, from Greek kaisar, from Latin Caesar. First adopted by Russian emperor Ivan IV, 1547.

The spelling with cz- is against the usage of all Slavonic languages; the word was so spelt by Herberstein, Rerum Moscovit. Commentarii, 1549, the chief early source of knowledge as to Russia in Western Europe, whence it passed into the Western Languages generally; in some of these it is now old-fashioned; the usual Ger. form is now zar; French adopted tsar during the 19th c. This also became frequent in English towards the end of that century, having been adopted by the Times newspaper as the most suitable English spelling. [OED]

The Germanic form of the word also is the source of Finnish keisari, Estonian keisar. The transferred sense of "person with dictatorial powers" is first recorded 1866, American English, initially in reference to President Andrew Johnson. The fem. czarina is 1717, from Italian czarina, from Ger. Zarin, fem. of Zar "czar." The Russian fem. form is tsaritsa. His son is tsarevitch, his daughter is tsarevna.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

czar in Culture

czar

[(zahr, tsahr)]

The title of rulers or emperors of Russia from the sixteenth century until the Russian Revolution. The czars ruled as absolute monarchs (see absolute monarchy) until the early twentieth century, when a parliament was established in Russia. Czar can also be spelled tsar.

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Note

The term czar is sometimes applied generally to a powerful leader or to a government administrator with wide-ranging powers.
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.