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[zahr, tsahr] /zɑr, tsɑr/
an emperor or king.
(often initial capital letter) the former emperor of Russia.
an autocratic ruler or leader.
any person exercising great authority or power in a particular field:
a czar of industry.
Also, tsar, tzar.
1545-55; < Russian tsar', Old Russian tsĭsarĭ emperor, king (akin to OCS tsěsarĭ) < Gothic kaisar emperor (< Greek or L); Greek kaîsar < Latin Caesar caesar Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for czar
  • Governing by committee--or in this case, czar--encourages cronyism and undermines the rule of law.
  • The isolation and severe climate well suited the penal needs of an authoritarian state ruled by a czar.
  • Where human rights no longer depend on the mood of the czar, good or evil.
  • Team spirit turns hockey star into real estate czar.
British Dictionary definitions for czar


a variant spelling (esp US) of tsar
Derived Forms
czardom, noun


/zɑː; tsɑː/
(until 1917) the emperor of Russia
a tyrant; autocrat
(informal) a public official charged with responsibility for dealing with a certain problem or issue: a drugs tsar
(informal) a person in authority; leader
(formerly) any of several S Slavonic rulers, such as any of the princes of Serbia in the 14th century
Also (less commonly) tzar
Derived Forms
tsardom, czardom, noun
Word Origin
from Russian tsar, via Gothic kaisar from Latin Caesar
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 czar

1550s, from Russian tsar, from Old Slavic tsesari, from Gothic kaisar, from Greek kaisar, from Latin Caesar. First adopted by Russian emperor Ivan IV, 1547.

The spelling with cz- is against the usage of all Slavonic languages; the word was so spelt by Herberstein, Rerum Moscovit. Commentarii, 1549, the chief early source of knowledge as to Russia in Western Europe, whence it passed into the Western Languages generally; in some of these it is now old-fashioned; the usual Ger. form is now zar; French adopted tsar during the 19th c. This also became frequent in English towards the end of that century, having been adopted by the Times newspaper as the most suitable English spelling. [OED]
The Germanic form of the word also is the source of Finnish keisari, Estonian keisar. The transferred sense of "person with dictatorial powers" is first recorded 1866, American English, initially in reference to President Andrew Johnson. The fem. czarina is 1717, from Italian czarina, from Ger. Zarin, fem. of Zar "czar." The Russian fem. form is tsaritsa. His son is tsarevitch, his daughter is tsarevna.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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czar in Culture
czar [(zahr, tsahr)]

The title of rulers or emperors of Russia from the sixteenth century until the Russian Revolution. The czars ruled as absolute monarchs (see absolute monarchy) until the early twentieth century, when a parliament was established in Russia. Czar can also be spelled tsar.

Note: The term czar is sometimes applied generally to a powerful leader or to a government administrator with wide-ranging powers.
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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Slang definitions & phrases for czar



A person appointed or elected to have great authority over a certain sport or other area; the commissioner of a sport or government department: baseball czar/ czar of boxing/ drug czar

[1890s+; fr the title of the Russian emperors; used as the nickname of T B Reed (d. 1902), authoritarian Speaker of the House of Representatives]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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