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noun, plural tyr·an·nies.
  1. arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.
  2. the government or rule of a tyrant or absolute ruler.
  3. a state ruled by a tyrant or absolute ruler.
  4. oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.
  5. undue severity or harshness.
  6. a cruel or harsh act or proceeding; an arbitrary, oppressive, or tyrannical action.

Origin of tyranny

1325–75; Middle English tyrannie < Old French < Medieval Latin tyrannia, equivalent to Latin tyrann(us) tyrant + -ia -y3
Related formspre·tyr·an·ny, noun, plural pre·tyr·an·nies.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for tyranny


noun plural -nies
    1. government by a tyrant or tyrants; despotism
    2. similarly oppressive and unjust government by more than one person
  1. arbitrary, unreasonable, or despotic behaviour or use of authoritythe teacher's tyranny
  2. any harsh discipline or oppressionthe tyranny of the clock
  3. a political unit ruled by a tyrant
  4. (esp in ancient Greece) government by a usurper
  5. a tyrannical act
Derived Formstyrannous, adjectivetyrannously, adverbtyrannousness, noun

Word Origin for tyranny

C14: from Old French tyrannie, from Medieval Latin tyrannia, from Latin tyrannus tyrant
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 tyranny

late 14c., "cruel or unjust use of power," from Old French tyrannie (13c.), from Late Latin tyrannia "tyranny," from Greek tyrannia "rule of a tyrant," from tyrannos "master" (see tyrant).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper