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[om-buh dz-muh n, -man, -boo dz-, awm-, om-boo dz-muh n, -man, awm-] /ˈɒm bədz mən, -ˌmæn, -bʊdz-, ˈɔm-, ɒmˈbʊdz mən, -ˌmæn, ɔm-/
noun, plural ombudsmen
[om-buh dz-muh n, -men, -boo dz-, awm-, om-boo dz-muh n, -men, awm-] /ˈɒm bədz mən, -ˌmɛn, -bʊdz-, ˈɔm-, ɒmˈbʊdz mən, -ˌmɛn, ɔm-/ (Show IPA)
a government official who hears and investigates complaints by private citizens against other officials or government agencies.
a person who investigates and attempts to resolve complaints and problems, as between employees and an employer or between students and a university.
1910-15; < Swedish: legal representative, equivalent to ombud agent, attorney + -s ’s1 + -man -man
Usage note
See -man. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ombudsman
  • The ombudsman criticised the city for its poor supervision.
  • Rather than hide the situation, go see the ombudsman and ask for advice.
  • It lacks clear standards for judging conflicts of interest and an independent ombudsman.
  • There is no ombudsman here, so the government controls the media directly.
  • Commissioner, has reorganized the agency's generic drug division and appointed an ombudsman.
  • When a modification was denied, it would be automatically reviewed by an ombudsman or independent review panel.
  • Undercover police have been sent to deter abuses by their colleagues, and an ombudsman will investigate complaints.
  • The ombudsman, who levelled the accusations against him, was herself threatened with arrest for alleged fraud.
  • If you experience this, you can contact the local long term care ombudsman's office and ask them about any history of complaints.
British Dictionary definitions for ombudsman


noun (pl) -men
a commissioner who acts as independent referee between individual citizens and their government or its administration
(in Britain) an official, without power of sanction or mechanism of appeal, who investigates complaints of maladministration by members of the public against national or local government or its servants Formal names Commissioner for Local Administration, Health Service Commissioner, Parliamentary Commissioner See also Financial Ombudsman
Word Origin
C20: from Swedish: commissioner
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 ombudsman

1959, from Swedish ombudsman, literally "commission man" (specifically in reference to the office of justitieombudsmannen, which hears and investigates complaints by individuals against abuses of the state); cognate with Old Norse umboðsmaðr, from umboð "commission" (from um- "around," see ambi-, + boð "command," see bid (v.)) + maðr "man" (see man (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ombudsman in Culture
ombudsman [(om-buhdz-muhn, om-boodz-muhn)]

An official appointed by a government or other organization to investigate complaints against people in authority. This position is designed to give those with less power — the “little people” — a voice in the operation of large organizations.

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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