[ des-puh-tiz-uhm ]
/ ˈdɛs pəˌtɪz əm /


the rule of a despot; the exercise of absolute authority.
absolute power or control; tyranny.
an absolute or autocratic government.
a country ruled by a despot.

Origin of despotism

From the French word despotisme, dating back to 1720–30. See despot, -ism Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for despotism

British Dictionary definitions for despotism

/ (ˈdɛspəˌtɪzəm) /


the rule of a despot; arbitrary, absolute, or tyrannical government
arbitrary or tyrannical authority or behaviour
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

Cultural definitions for despotism

[ (des-puh-tiz-uhm) ]

Unlimited political rule by one person.

notes for despotism

The term usually suggests unscrupulous rule, or tyranny.
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.