A potentate is a person so powerful that he or she doesn't have to follow the rules that govern everyone else. Potentate normally refers to a king or dictator, but you can call anyone with virtually unlimited power a potentate.

The king of a country, the conductor of an orchestra, the commander of a battleship—all of these are examples of a potentate. Take a look at potentate, and you'll see the word potent, which means "powerful," as in "that's one potent cup o' joe!" It's easy to see, then, how potent becomes potentate just by adding a few letters. A potentate is a powerful person. Anna Wintour is a potentate of the fashion world, and her decisions can make or break whole careers.

Definitions of potentate

n a ruler who is unconstrained by law

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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)
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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

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