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[uh-thawr-i-tair-ee-uh n, uh-thor-] /əˌθɔr ɪˈtɛər i ən, əˌθɒr-/
favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom:
authoritarian principles; authoritarian attitudes.
of or pertaining to a governmental or political system, principle, or practice in which individual freedom is held as completely subordinate to the power or authority of the state, centered either in one person or a small group that is not constitutionally accountable to the people.
exercising complete or almost complete control over the will of another or of others:
an authoritarian parent.
a person who favors or acts according to authoritarian principles.
1875-80; authorit(y) + -arian
Related forms
authoritarianism, noun
antiauthoritarian, adjective
antiauthoritarianism, noun
nonauthoritarian, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for authoritarian
  • The director said he had coped with the authoritarian environment of his childhood by living in a world of fantasy.
  • The authors reveal that spanking and other authoritarian methods work against this process.
  • The group owns the individual; music to the ears of every authoritarian in the world.
  • It is there to neutralize and paralyze this state which is too strong and too authoritarian.
  • They also accuse him of using authoritarian tactics to stifle dissent.
  • Cracks are appearing in the authoritarian structure.
  • Simple definition, authoritarian governments tell you what not to do.
  • We try to find that reason and deal with it on a human, not an authoritarian level.
  • The first step is in admitting to being an authoritarian.
  • He allied himself with the church to organize society on a hierarchical and authoritarian structure.
British Dictionary definitions for authoritarian


favouring, denoting, or characterized by strict obedience to authority
favouring, denoting, or relating to government by a small elite with wide powers
despotic; dictatorial; domineering
a person who favours or practises authoritarian policies
Derived Forms
authoritarianism, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for authoritarian

1862, "favoring imposed order over freedom," from authority + -an. Cf. authoritative, which originally had this meaning to itself. Noun in the sense of one advocating or practicing such governance is from 1859.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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