[zahr, tsahr]
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. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
czar (zɑː)
a variant spelling (esp US) of tsar

tsar or czar (zɑː, tsɑː, zɑː, tsɑː)
1.  (until 1917) the emperor of Russia
2.  a tyrant; autocrat
3.  informal a public official charged with responsibility for dealing with a certain problem or issue: a drugs tsar
4.  informal a person in authority; leader
5.  (formerly) any of several S Slavonic rulers, such as any of the princes of Serbia in the 14th century
[from Russian tsar, via Gothic kaisar from Latin Caesar]
czar or czar
[from Russian tsar, via Gothic kaisar from Latin Caesar]
'tsardom or czar
'czardom or czar

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1555, from Rus. tsar, from Old Slavic tsesari, from Gothic kaisar, from Gk. kaisar, from L. 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 Gmc. 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, Amer.Eng., initially in ref. to President Andrew Johnson. The fem. czarina is 1717, from It. czarina, from Ger. Zarin, fem. of Zar "czar." The Rus. fem. is tsaritsa. His son is tsarevitch, his daughter is tsarevna.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
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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Example sentences
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.
Image for czar
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