[ dik-tey-ter, dik-tey-ter ]
/ ˈdɪk teɪ tər, dɪkˈteɪ tər /


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.

Nearby words

  1. dicta,
  2. dictaphone,
  3. dictate,
  4. dictating machine,
  5. dictation,
  6. dictatorial,
  7. dictatorship,
  8. diction,
  9. dictionary,
  10. dictionary and thesaurus

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

British Dictionary definitions for dictator


/ (dɪkˈteɪtə) /


  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