a political system governed by a few people
"one of his cardinal convictions was that Britain was not run as a democracy but as an oligarchy"; "the big cities were notoriously in the hands of the oligarchy of local businessmen"
A government run by only a few, often the wealthy.
Those who make up an oligarchic government.
A state ruled by such a government.
Origin: From oligarchie, from oligarchia, from ὀλιγαρχία, from ὀλίγος + ἀρχή.
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people could be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who pass their influence from one generation to the next. In his 2011 book, "Oligarchy," Jeffrey A. Winters defines oligarchy as "the politics of wealth defense by materially endowed actors." In Winters' definition, massive wealth is the key factor in identifying oligarchs. Throughout history, oligarchies have been tyrannical or relatively benign. Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which the exact term is plutocracy, but oligarchy is not always a rule by wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group, and do not have to be connected by bloodlines as in a monarchy.
Chambers 20th Century Dictionary
ol′i-gärk-i, n. government by a small exclusive class: a state governed by such: a small body of men who have the supreme power of a state in their hands.—n. Ol′igarch, a member of an oligarchy.—adjs. Oligarch′al, Oligarch′ic, -al, pertaining to an oligarchy. [Fr.,—Gr., oligos, few, archein, to rule.]
The numerical value of oligarchy in Chaldean Numerology is: 8
The numerical value of oligarchy in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8
Sample Sentences & Example Usage
At the start of this year the parasitical oligarchy ambushed us but we and the people are responding.
You are not looking at democracy, you are looking at oligarchy -- and we have got to change that, i do not exaggerate when I tell you that the foundations of American democracy are being undermined.
It will tell people what I have been saying for a long time, is that this country is moving away from democracy to oligarchy; that billionaires are the people who are controlling our political life.
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.
Images & Illustrations of oligarchy
Translations for oligarchy
From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary
- حكم الأ قليةArabic
- oligarquiaCatalan, Valencian
- oligarki, fåmandsvældeDanish
- oligarkia, valtaeliitti, harvainvaltaFinnish
- 과두 정치Korean
Get even more translations for oligarchy »
Find a translation for the oligarchy definition in other languages:
Select another language: