Despotism is a way of ruling in which the leader has total, unchecked power. Joseph Stalin purged the Soviet Union of all his opponents in order to rule the country through despotism. He didn’t have many friends.

Despotism can also describe tyranny, the wielding of power through cruelty and terror. It's often used in reference to a country that's ruled by a dictator, but despotism can describe any situation characterized by oppression and threats. When your sister threatens to send all of your friends embarrassing baby photos of you if you don’t let her control the TV remote, that’s despotism.

Definitions of despotism
  1. noun
    dominance through threat of punishment and violence
    synonyms: absolutism, tyranny
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    type of:
    ascendance, ascendancy, ascendence, ascendency, control, dominance
    the state that exists when one person or group has power over another
  2. noun
    a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.)
    synonyms: Caesarism, Stalinism, absolutism, authoritarianism, dictatorship, monocracy, one-man rule, shogunate, totalitarianism, tyranny
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    police state
    a country that maintains repressive control over the people by means of police (especially secret police)
    type of:
    autarchy, autocracy
    a political system governed by a single individual
Word Family

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