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[des-puh t, -pot] /ˈdɛs pət, -pɒt/
a king or other ruler with absolute, unlimited power; autocrat.
any tyrant or oppressor.
History/Historical. an honorary title applied to a Byzantine emperor, afterward to members of his family, and later to Byzantine vassal rulers and governors.
Origin of despot
1555-65; < Greek despótēs master < *dems-pot- presumably, “master of the house,” equivalent to *dems-, akin to dómos house + pot-, base of pósis husband, spouse; cf. hospodar, host1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for despot
  • The dictator would likely be replaced by yet another despot in disguise.
  • He's a despot, and can be seen in an extreme way.
  • You are like a benevolent despot .
  • The president has been described as an autocrat (or despot, depending on if you had ever been the object of his wrath).
  • There's no better excuse for problems than having had a despot.
  • In short a good commander has to be an "enlightened despot".
  • Both men were despots, in their different ways.
  • It was able to claim to have shown the despot what freedom is all about.
  • His father, whom he calls a despot, forbade it.
  • He can recognise a despot, and the occasions when despotism has to be checked, by force if necessary.
British Dictionary definitions for despot


an absolute or tyrannical ruler; autocrat or tyrant
any person in power who acts tyrannically
a title borne by numerous persons of rank in the later Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires: the despot of Servia
Derived Forms
despotic (dɛsˈpɒtɪk), despotical, adjective
despotically, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin despota, from Greek despotēs lord, master; related to Latin domus house
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for despot

1560s, "absolute ruler," from Old French despot (14c.), from Medieval Latin despota, from Greek despotes "master of a household, lord, absolute ruler," from PIE *dems-pota-; for first element see domestic (adj.); second element cognate with Latin potis, potens (see potent).

Faintly pejorative in Greek, progressively more so as used in various languages for Roman emperors, Christian rulers of Ottoman provinces, and Louis XVI during the French Revolution. The female equivalent was despoina "lady, queen, mistress," source of the proper name Despina.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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