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despot

[des-puh t, -pot]
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noun
  1. a king or other ruler with absolute, unlimited power; autocrat.
  2. any tyrant or oppressor.
  3. History/Historical. an honorary title applied to a Byzantine emperor, afterward to members of his family, and later to Byzantine vassal rulers and governors.
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Origin of despot

1555–65; < Greek despótēs master < *dems-pot- presumably, “master of the house,” equivalent to *dems-, akin to dómos house + pot-, base of pósis husband, spouse; cf. hospodar, host1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for despots

despot

noun
  1. an absolute or tyrannical ruler; autocrat or tyrant
  2. any person in power who acts tyrannically
  3. a title borne by numerous persons of rank in the later Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empiresthe despot of Servia
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Derived Formsdespotic (dɛsˈpɒtɪk) or despotical, adjectivedespotically, adverb

Word Origin

C16: from Medieval Latin despota, from Greek despotēs lord, master; related to Latin domus house
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 despots

despot

n.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper