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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
Historical Examples
  • It is not true that "every commissar in Russia to-day is a Jew."

  • The assistants of the commissar were at the time away on duty, and Iordansky himself in Zhitomir.

    The Russian Turmoil Anton Ivanovich Denikin
  • Surely you must realize that the commissar is one of the busiest men in Transbalkania, Comrade.

    Expediter Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • That commissar, according to the Commanding Officers, is undoubtedly useful.

    The Russian Turmoil Anton Ivanovich Denikin
  • He is the commissar of the 'Cheka' and she is the agent of this establishment.

    Beasts, Men and Gods Ferdinand Ossendowski
  • One commissar was appointed by agreement between the Government and the Soviet.

    The Russian Turmoil Anton Ivanovich Denikin
  • When the latter passed a vote of censure upon the activities of a commissar, he could practically do nothing more.

    The Russian Turmoil Anton Ivanovich Denikin
  • The commissar began to protest heatedly, but Josip Pekic shook his head and tried to firm his less than dominating voice.

    Expediter Dallas McCord Reynolds
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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