- a king or other ruler with absolute, unlimited power; autocrat.
- any tyrant or oppressor.
- History/Historical. an honorary title applied to a Byzantine emperor, afterward to members of his family, and later to Byzantine vassal rulers and governors.
Origin of despot
Examples from the Web for despots
The Castros are the latest in a long line of despots he believed he could negotiate with.Obama’s One Hand Clap With Castro
December 24, 2014
These affinities are arguably at the heart of the 40-year dalliance of Iranian and Syrian despots.Iranian Clerics About to Fall?
September 13, 2011
As the trial continues, one thing is certain: Both the despots and ordinary people will be watching closely.How to Try a Dictator
August 4, 2011
The children of despots often hasten their fathers' downfall.Dictators' Sons, From Egypt to Libya, Are Doomed
February 9, 2011
True, there are some Muslims who are fascist, but why blame Islam for the tyranny of despots?Why the Mosque Scares the Right
August 14, 2010
When Pausanias remarks that personal attachments are inimical to despots.Symposium
His thwarted desires of yesterday were the despots of his wits.The Sea-Hawk
Like all favorites of despots, he had power to abuse, and abused it.
The dear despots of the fireside have a weakness for lawless characters.Notes on Life and Letters
The Norwegian men must be despots, tyrants, actual Heathens and Turks!Strife and Peace
- an absolute or tyrannical ruler; autocrat or tyrant
- any person in power who acts tyrannically
- a title borne by numerous persons of rank in the later Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empiresthe despot of Servia
Word Origin and History for despots
1560s, "absolute ruler," from Old French despot (14c.), from Medieval Latin despota, from Greek despotes "master of a household, lord, absolute ruler," from PIE *dems-pota-; for first element see domestic (adj.); second element cognate with Latin potis, potens (see potent).
Faintly pejorative in Greek, progressively more so as used in various languages for Roman emperors, Christian rulers of Ottoman provinces, and Louis XVI during the French Revolution. The female equivalent was despoina "lady, queen, mistress," source of the proper name Despina.