What does despotism mean?

Definitions for despotismˈdɛs pəˌtɪz əm

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word despotism.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. absolutism, tyranny, despotism(noun)

    dominance through threat of punishment and violence

  2. dictatorship, absolutism, authoritarianism, Caesarism, despotism, monocracy, one-man rule, shogunate, Stalinism, totalitarianism, tyranny(noun)

    a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.)


  1. despotism(Noun)

    government by a singular authority, either a single person or tight-knit group, which rules with absolute power

Webster Dictionary

  1. Despotism(noun)

    the power, spirit, or principles of a despot; absolute control over others; tyrannical sway; tyranny

  2. Despotism(noun)

    a government which is directed by a despot; a despotic monarchy; absolutism; autocracy

  3. Origin: [Cf. F. despotisme.]


  1. Despotism

    Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. That entity may be an individual, as in an autocracy, or it may be a group, as in an oligarchy. The word despotism means to "rule in the fashion of a despot" and does not necessarily require a singular "despot", an individual. Despot comes from the Greek despotes, which roughly means "master" or "one with power", and it has been used to translate a wide variety of titles and positions. It was used to describe the unlimited power and authority of the Pharaohs of Egypt, employed in the Byzantine court as a title of nobility, used by the rulers of Byzantine vassal states, and adopted as a title of the Byzantine Emperors. Thus, despot is found to have different meanings and interpretations at various times in history and can not be described by a single definition. This is similar to the other Greek titles basileus and autokrator, which, along with despot, have been used at various times to describe everything from a local chieftain to a simple ruler, king or emperor. Colloquially, despot has been applied pejoratively to a person, particularly a head of state or government, who abuses their power and authority to oppress their people, subjects or subordinates. In this sense, it is similar to the pejorative connotations that have likewise arisen with the term tyrant. Dictator has also developed nearly similar pejorative connotations, though despot and tyrant tend to stress cruelty and even enjoyment therefrom, while dictator tends to imply more harshness or unfair implementation of law.


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of despotism in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of despotism in Pythagorean Numerology is: 3

Sample Sentences & Example Usage

  1. Thomas Carlyle:

    France was a long despotism tempered by epigrams.

  2. Michel Foucault:

    Freedom of conscience entails more dangers than authority and despotism.

  3. John Stuart Mill:

    What ever crushes individuality is despotism, no matter what name it is called.

  4. Ben Carson:

    I beg to differ, if you go back and look at the history of the world, tyranny and despotism and how it starts, it has a lot to do with control of thought and control of speech.

  5. John Stuart Mill:

    The despotism of custom is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement, being in unceasing antagonism to that disposition to aim at something better than customary,....

Images & Illustrations of despotism

  1. despotismdespotismdespotism

Translations for despotism

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"despotism." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/despotism>.

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