A dictator is someone who has absolute power — or who at least behaves as if they do by bossing others around.

In government, a dictator is a ruler who has total control over a country, with no checks or balances to prevent abuse of power. Dictator can also describe someone who acts like that on a smaller scale. When your sister is getting married and your mom makes her order roses instead lilies for the table arrangements and yells at you for addressing the invitations too slowly and insists that all of her coworkers be invited, she’s acting like a dictator.

Primary Meanings of dictator

a ruler who is unconstrained by law
a speaker who dictates to a secretary or a recording machine
Full Definitions of dictator

n a ruler who is unconstrained by law

show 6 examples...
hide 6 examples...
Francois Duvalier
oppressive Haitian dictator (1907-1971)
Jean-Claude Duvalier
son and successor of Francois Duvalier as president of Haiti; he was overthrown by a mass uprising in 1986 (born in 1951)
Francisco Franco
Spanish general whose armies took control of Spain in 1939 and who ruled as a dictator until his death (1892-1975)
Adolf Hitler
German Nazi dictator during World War II (1889-1945)
Benito Mussolini
Italian fascist dictator (1883-1945)
Tojo Hideki
Japanese army officer who initiated the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and who assumed dictatorial control of Japan during World War II; he was subsequently tried and executed as a war criminal (1884-1948)
show 4 types...
hide 4 types...
a hereditary military dictator of Japan; the shoguns ruled Japan until the revolution of 1867-68
a powerful political figure who rules by the exercise of force or violence
autocrat, despot, tyrant
a cruel and oppressive dictator
a person having great power
Type of:
ruler, swayer
a person who rules or commands

n a person who behaves in a tyrannical manner

“my boss is a dictator who makes everyone work overtime”
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

n a speaker who dictates to a secretary or a recording machine

Type of:
speaker, talker, utterer, verbaliser, verbalizer
someone who expresses in language; someone who talks (especially someone who delivers a public speech or someone especially garrulous)

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.