[ ploo-tuh-krat ]
/ ˈplu təˌkræt /
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a member of a plutocracy.
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Origin of plutocrat

First recorded in 1840–50; pluto(cracy) + -crat
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a plutocrat?

A plutocrat is a wealthy person who rules or influences leaders in a plutocracy—a government in which wealthy people use their wealth to rule.

In a plutocracy, the plutocrats may be the actual leaders, or they may influence or control the decisions that the leaders make. Plutocracy is never used as an official term for a form of government (like democracy is, for example)—it’s almost always applied as a criticism of such situations. It is frequently used as a way of pointing out inequality and the powerful influence of the wealthy in politics and government. Plutocrat is used in the same way.

A country that is thought to have a plutocratic government can also be referred to as a plutocracy, as in Many outsiders saw the nation as an oppressive plutocracy. 

Plutocracy can also refer to the power that this kind of wealth can allow, as in His latest column explains his belief that the government has been corrupted by plutocracy. 

It can also refer to the wealthy class that is using wealth to rule, as in The businessman was accused of being a member of the plutocracy. 

The term plutocrat can refer to a person who’s a part of a plutocracy in any of the senses of the word.

Example: Average citizens are angry because they believe billionaires have turned the government into a plutocracy to benefit themselves and their fellow plutocrats.

Where does plutocrat come from?

The first records of the word plutocrat come from the 1800s. It ultimately comes from the Greek ploutokratía. The first part of the word comes from ploûto(s), meaning “wealth.” (The name of the god Pluto of Greek mythology—for whom the dwarf planet is named—comes from the related Greek Ploutōn, meaning “the rich one.”) The suffix -crat means “ruler” and is used in terms like bureaucrat and autocrat.

Plutocrats are the rich people who rule with their wealth. The term does not imply a specific political doctrine or philosophy. Instead, it’s often used to imply that such a system leads to corruption and oppression—no matter what the official form of government is or what the specific politics of its leaders are.

Plutocrat is often used alongside other critical terms for members of other forms of government thought to be corrupt or unjust, such as oligarch (one of a small group of people who hold power) and autocrat (a ruler with unlimited power).

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What are some other forms related to plutocrat?

What are some words that share a root or word element with plutocrat

What are some words that often get used in discussing plutocrat?

How is plutocrat used in real life?

Plutocrat is almost always used in a critical way. It usually implies that such people run governments that are corrupt and oppressive.



Try using plutocrat!

True or False?

A plutocrat is a religious leader who rules a country.

How to use plutocrat in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for plutocrat

/ (ˈpluːtəˌkræt) /

a member of a plutocracy
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