What does tyrant mean?

Definitions for tyrant
ˈtaɪ rənttyrant

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word tyrant.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. tyrant, autocrat, despotnoun

    a cruel and oppressive dictator

  2. tyrantnoun

    in ancient Greece, a ruler who had seized power without legal right to it

  3. tyrantnoun

    any person who exercises power in a cruel way

    "his father was a tyrant"


  1. tyrantnoun

    An absolute ruler who governs without restriction.

  2. tyrantnoun

    A harsh and cruel ruler.

  3. tyrantnoun

    An oppressive, cruel and harsh person.

  4. Etymology: From tirant (French tyran), from tyrannus, from τύραννος.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. TYRANTnoun

    Etymology: τύραννος; tyrannus, Latin. Rowland contends that this word, with the correspondent Greek and Latin, is derived from tir, Welch and Erse, land, and rhanner, Welch, to share, q. d. tirhanner, a sharer, or divider of and among his vassals.

    Love to a yielding heart is a king, but to a resisting is a tyrant. Philip Sidney, b. i.

    I would not be the villain that thou think’st,
    For the whole space that’s in the tyrant ’s grasp,
    And the rich east to boot. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

    Dissembling courtesy! how fine this tyrant
    Can tickle where she wounds! William Shakespeare, Cymb.

    The house of woe, and dungeon of our tyrant. John Milton.

    Consider those grand agents and lieutenants of the devil, by whom he scourges and plagues the world under him, to wit, tyrants; and was there ever any tyrant who was not also false and perfidious! Robert South, Sermons.

    Thou meant’st to kill a tyrant, not a king. Dryden.

    When tyrant custom had not shackl’d man,
    But free to follow nature was the mode. James Thomson.


  1. Tyrant

    A tyrant (from Ancient Greek τύραννος (túrannos) 'absolute ruler'), in the modern English usage of the word, is an absolute ruler who is unrestrained by law, or one who has usurped a legitimate ruler's sovereignty. Often portrayed as cruel, tyrants may defend their positions by resorting to repressive means. The original Greek term meant an absolute sovereign who came to power without constitutional right, yet the word had a neutral connotation during the Archaic and early Classical periods. However, Greek philosopher Plato saw tyrannos as a negative word, and on account of the decisive influence of philosophy on politics, Plato deemed tyranny the “fourth and worst disorder of a state.” Tyrants lack “the very faculty that is the instrument of judgment”—reason. The tyrannical man is enslaved because the best part of him (reason) is enslaved, and likewise, the tyrannical state is enslaved, because it too lacks reason and order. Its negative connotations only increased, continuing into the Hellenistic period.The philosophers Plato and Aristotle defined a tyrant as a person who rules without law, using extreme and cruel methods against both his own people and others. The Encyclopédie defined the term as a usurper of sovereign power who makes "his subjects the victims of his passions and unjust desires, which he substitutes for laws". In the late fifth and fourth centuries BC, a new kind of tyrant, one who had the support of the military, arose – specifically in Sicily.


  1. tyrant

    A tyrant is a cruel and oppressive ruler who exercises absolute power and authority over a country or its people without regards for the individual rights or well-being of the citizens.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Tyrantnoun

    an absolute ruler; a sovereign unrestrained by law or constitution; a usurper of sovereignty

  2. Tyrantnoun

    specifically, a monarch, or other ruler or master, who uses power to oppress his subjects; a person who exercises unlawful authority, or lawful authority in an unlawful manner; one who by taxation, injustice, or cruel punishment, or the demand of unreasonable services, imposes burdens and hardships on those under his control, which law and humanity do not authorize, or which the purposes of government do not require; a cruel master; an oppressor

  3. Tyrantnoun

    any one of numerous species of American clamatorial birds belonging to the family Tyrannidae; -- called also tyrant bird

  4. Tyrantverb

    to act like a tyrant; to play the tyrant; to tyrannical


  1. Tyrant

    A tyrant, in its modern English usage, is a ruler of a cruel and oppressive character who is an absolute ruler unrestrained by law or constitution, and/or one who has usurped legitimate sovereignty. The original Greek term, however, merely meant an authoritarian sovereign without reference to character, bearing no pejorative connotation during the Archaic and early Classical periods, though it was clearly a bad word to Plato, and on account of the decisive influence of political philosophy its negative connotations only increased down into the Hellenistic period, becoming synonymous with "Authenteo" - another term which carried authoritarian connotations around the turn of the first century A.D. Plato and Aristotle define a tyrant as, "one who rules without law, looks to his own advantage rather than that of his subjects, and uses extreme and cruel tactics—against his own people as well as others". During the seventh and sixth centuries BC, tyranny was often looked upon as an intermediate stage between narrow oligarchy and more democratic forms of polity. However, in the late fifth and fourth centuries, a new kind of tyrant, the military dictator, arose, specifically in Sicily.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Tyrant

    tī′rant, n. one who uses his power arbitrarily and oppressively: (orig.) an absolute monarch or irresponsible magistrate with unlimited powers or an overruling influence.—v.t. to tyrannise over.—n. Ty′ran (Spens.), a tyrant.—v.t. to play the tyrant over.—n. Tyr′anness (Spens.), a female tyrant.—adjs. Tyran′nic, -al, Tyr′annous, pertaining to or suiting a tyrant: unjustly severe: imperious: despotic.—advs. Tyran′nically, Tyr′annously.—n. Tyran′nicalness.—adj. Tyran′nicidal.—n. Tyran′nicide, the act of killing a tyrant: one who kills a tyrant.—n.pl. Tyran′nidæ, a family of Passerine birds, the typical genus Tyran′nus, the tyrant-birds or tyrant-flycatchers.—v.i. Tyr′annise, to act as a tyrant: to rule with oppressive severity.—v.t. to act the tyrant to.—adj. Tyr′annish.—n. Tyr′anny, the government or authority of a tyrant: absolute monarchy cruelly administered: oppression: cruelty: harshness. [O. Fr. tirant (Fr. tyran)—L. tyrannns—Gr. tyrannos (Doric koiranos).]

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. tyrant

    A name given in modern times to an arbitrary and oppressive ruler, but originally applied, not necessarily to one who exercised power badly, but merely to one who had obtained it illegally, and therefore equivalent to our word usurper. If the one who thus rose to power as a “tyrant” happened to be a man of sense, and wisdom, and generosity, his “tyranny” might prove a blessing to a state torn by the animosities of selfish oligarchs, and be the theme of praise in after-ages, as was the case with the “tyrannies” of Pesistratos, Gelon, and others; but if he was insolent, rapacious, and cruel, then he sought to reduce the citizens to a worse than Egyptian bondage, and his name became infamous to all time. Such has been the fate of most of the “Thirty Tyrants of Athens.” It was the method of exercising authority pursued by these and similar usurpers that latterly, even in ancient times, gave the word tyrant that evil significance it has ever since uninterruptedly retained.

Editors Contribution

  1. tyrantverb

    Meaning throwing a tirant {similar to tantrum}

    She was throwing a tirant

    Submitted by bcj2002.ca on June 8, 2022  

Suggested Resources

  1. tyrant

    Song lyrics by tyrant -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by tyrant on the Lyrics.com website.

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  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of tyrant in Chaldean Numerology is: 8

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of tyrant in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Examples of tyrant in a Sentence

  1. Matthew Prior:

    Fantastic tyrant of the amorous heart. How hard thy yoke, how cruel thy dart. Those escape your anger who refuse your sway, and those are punished most, who most obey.

  2. Emily Brontë:

    The tyrant grinds down his slaves and they don't turn against him, they crush those beneath them.

  3. Aeschylus:

    In every tyrant's heart there springs in the end this poison, that he cannot trust a friend.

  4. Philip Hammond:

    Ukrainians can't beat the Russian army, that's not a practical proposition. There has to be a political solution, this man (Putin) has sent troops across an international border and occupied another country's territory in the 21st century acting like some mid-20th century tyrant. Civilized nations do not behave like that.

  5. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei:

    However, the conclusion that arises from the remarks of the tyrant in Tehran is that all responsible countries must cooperate in order to stop Iran's terrorism and aggression which, to my regret, will only increase as a result of the agreement.

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"tyrant." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 22 Jun 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/tyrant>.

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1 Comment
  • Doug Holman
    Doug Holman
    police have become tyrants.
    LikeReply4 years ago

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relating to or concerned with a city or densely populated area
A blistering
B urban
C abrupt
D witless

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