1803, from Fr. autocrate, from Gk. autokrates "ruling by oneself," from autos- "self" (comb. form) + kratia "rule," from kratos "strength, power" (see -cracy). First used by Robert Southey, with reference to Napoleon. An earlier form was autocrator (1789), used in ref. to the Russian Czars. Earliest form in Eng. is the fem. autocratress (1762).