noun, plural oligarchies.
a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.
a state or organization so ruled.
the persons or class so ruling.

1570–80; < Medieval Latin oligarchia < Greek oligarchía. See olig-, -archy

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World English Dictionary
oligarchy (ˈɒlɪˌɡɑːkɪ)
n , pl -chies
1.  government by a small group of people
2.  a state or organization so governed
3.  a small body of individuals ruling such a state
4.  chiefly (US) a small clique of private citizens who exert a strong influence on government
[C16: via Medieval Latin from Greek oligarkhia, from olígos few + -archy]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1570s, from M.Fr. oligarchie (14c.), from Gk. oligarkhia "government by the few," from oligoi "few, small, little" (of unknown origin) + arkhein "to rule" (see archon).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
oligarchy [(ol-uh-gahr-kee, oh-luh-gahr-kee)]

A system of government in which power is held by a small group.

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
They're what you get in a religious oligarchy, which is trying to sustain their
  special privilege against the tides of change.
It's oligarchy and history has shown us that the current state of affairs is
  not sustainable in the long-run.
But her officials' efforts to paint the protesters as a rural oligarchy bent on
  toppling the government have done her little good.
Political power was in the hands of the oligarchy, democracy was a farce.
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