If your teacher orders you to detention every time you show up to class with a dull pencil, you could probably describe her as an authoritarian — a ruler who prefers order to freedom.

Authoritarian and authority both begin with author, which comes from an ancient Latin word meaning "master," "teacher," or "leader." The connection between authoritarian and master is obvious enough, and you can think of an author as the master of the fictional world she creates. Authoritarian is also an adjective. That teacher with the rule against dull pencils? You can use the noun form to say that she's an authoritarian, or you can use an adjective and skip the "an": "She's authoritarian."

Definitions of authoritarian

adj characteristic of an absolute ruler or absolute rule; having absolute sovereignty

“an authoritarian regime”
autocratic, despotic, dictatorial, tyrannic, tyrannical
not in agreement with or according to democratic doctrine or practice or ideals

adj expecting unquestioning obedience

“the timid child of authoritarian parents”
dictatorial, overbearing
tending to domineer

n a person who behaves in a tyrannical manner

Big Brother
an authoritarian leader and invader of privacy
disciplinarian, martinet, moralist
someone who demands exact conformity to rules and forms
someone who insists on something
Type of:
a person of authority who subjects others to undue pressures

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