or shō·gun

[shoh-guh n, -guhn]

noun Japanese History.

the title applied to the chief military commanders from about the 8th century a.d. to the end of the 12th century, then applied to the hereditary officials who governed Japan, with the emperor as nominal ruler, until 1868, when the shogunate was terminated and the ruling power was returned to the emperor.

Origin of shogun

1605–15; < Japanese shōgun, earlier shaũgun < Middle Chinese, equivalent, to Chinese jiāngjūn literally, lead the army
Related formssho·gun·al, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for shoguns

president, generalissimo, shogun

Examples from the Web for shoguns

Historical Examples of shoguns

  • Six Shoguns, members of the Tokugawa family, lie buried at Ueno.

    Travels in the Far East

    Ellen Mary Hayes Peck

  • At Uyéno is the second of the burial-grounds of the Shoguns.

    Tales of Old Japan

    Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford

  • See note on the tombs of the Shoguns, at the end of the story.

    Tales of Old Japan

    Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford

  • This question I asked the guide, who plunged me in a tangle of Daimios and Shoguns, all manifestly extracted from a guide-book.

    From Sea to Sea

    Rudyard Kipling

  • After the battle of Fushimi, and the abolition of the Shogunate, he accompanied the last of the Shoguns in his retirement.

    Tales of Old Japan

    Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford

British Dictionary definitions for shoguns


noun Japanese history

(from 794 ad) a chief military commander
(from about 1192 to 1867) any of a line of hereditary military dictators who relegated the emperors to a position of purely theoretical supremacy
Derived Formsshogunal, adjective

Word Origin for shogun

C17: from Japanese, from Chinese chiang chün general, from chiang to lead + chün army
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 shoguns



1610s, "hereditary commander of a Japanese army," from Japanese (sei-i-tai) shogun "(barbarian-subduing) chief" (late 12c.), sound-substitution for Chinese chiang chiin, literally "lead army."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

shoguns in Culture



Japanese military leaders who ruled the country from the twelfth to the nineteenth centuries. There was still an emperor in Japan under the shoguns, but he was reduced to a mere figurehead.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.