9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[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 despots
  • Yet even their pages have run editorials rejoicing in the disposing of despots and dreams of democracy.
  • The despots turned to forced sterilization of poor in a horrible miscarriage of population control.
  • Their critics, on the other hand, say they are simply propping up the despots and should withdraw from the country.
  • Individual donors are unlikely to bankroll despots for strategic reasons, as governments do.
  • Less nuclear weapons, less arms deals to despots, and definitely fewer military bases dotted around the world.
  • despots need fake issues to manipulate their populations.
  • All lame excuses from despots who know their days are numbered.
  • Are they any different from the thousands in developing countries who give their unfailing support to despots and tyrants.
  • No despots have ever set out to select for increased or decreased longevity in the populations they control.
  • All were despots who victimized their countrymen through political corruption and unbridled intimidation.
British Dictionary definitions for despots


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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for despots



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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