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[kom-uh-sahr, kom-uh-sahr] /ˈkɒm əˌsɑr, ˌkɒm əˈsɑr/
the head of any of the major governmental divisions of the U.S.S.R.: called minister since 1946.
an official in any communist government whose duties include political indoctrination, detection of political deviation, etc.
Origin of commissar
1915-20; < Russian komissár < German Kommissar < Medieval Latin commissārius commissary Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for commissar
  • So large, that it did not escape notice and one of the farmers was hauled before the local commissar.
  • We received a briefing, but it is from the political commissar or a senior staff officer, not an operational commander.
  • In addition, the commissar that was supposedly airbrushed out looks actually as if he was added in.
British Dictionary definitions for commissar


/ˈkɒmɪˌsɑː; ˌkɒmɪˈsɑː/
noun (in the former Soviet Union)
Also called political commissar. an official of the Communist Party responsible for political education, esp in a military unit
Also called People's Commissar. (before 1946) the head of a government department Now called minister
Word Origin
C20: from Russian kommissar, from German, from Medieval Latin commissāriuscommissary
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 commissar

1918, from Russian komissar, from German Kommissar "commissioner," from French, ultimately from Medieval Latin commissarius (see commissary).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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commissar in Culture
commissar [(kom-uh-sahr)]

In various communist systems of government, an official assigned to a group to ensure the group's conformity to Communist party doctrine. The heads of government departments in the former Soviet Union were called commissars.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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