[dik-tey-ter, dik-tey-ter]


a person exercising absolute power, especially a ruler who has absolute, unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession.
(in ancient Rome) a person invested with supreme authority during a crisis, the regular magistracy being subordinated to him until the crisis was met.
a person who authoritatively prescribes conduct, usage, etc.: a dictator of fashion.
a person who dictates, as to a secretary.

Origin of dictator

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin dictātor, equivalent to dictā(re) (see dictate) + -tor -tor
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dictator

Contemporary Examples of dictator

Historical Examples of dictator

  • It was sent me by Bompland, and was given to him by the Dictator of Paraguay himself.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • The King need not be persuaded after he has appointed his Dictator.

  • But the Dictator intended that his word should be heard and his will should be done.

    England and Germany

    Emile Joseph Dillon

  • "We will take you for a ride in one," the dictator of Subterro says.

    Operation Earthworm

    Joe Archibald

  • To the mind of the dictator himself, however, came no such change.

    The Lion's Brood

    Duffield Osborne

British Dictionary definitions for dictator



  1. a ruler who is not effectively restricted by a constitution, laws, recognized opposition, etc
  2. an absolute, esp tyrannical, ruler
(in ancient Rome) a person appointed during a crisis to exercise supreme authority
a person who makes pronouncements, as on conduct, fashion, etc, which are regarded as authoritative
a person who behaves in an authoritarian or tyrannical manner
Derived Formsdictatress (dɪkˈteɪtrɪs) or dictatrix (ˈdɪktətrɪks), fem n
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 dictator

late 14c., from Latin dictator, agent noun from dictare (see dictate (v.)). Transferred sense of "one who has absolute power or authority" in any sphere is from c.1600. In Latin use, a dictator was a judge in the Roman republic temporarily invested with absolute power.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper