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1934, from Führer und Reichskanzler, title assumed by Hitler in 1934 as head of the German state, from German Führer "leader," from führen "to lead," from Middle High German vüeren "to lead, drive," from Old High German fuoren "to set in motion, lead," causative of Old High German faran "to go, travel," which is cognate with Old English faran (see fare (v.)). Hitler's title was modeled on Mussolini's Duce.
used figuratively for "a dictator" from 1934.