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robber baron

History/Historical. a noble who robbed travelers passing through his lands.
a ruthlessly powerful U.S. capitalist or industrialist of the late 19th century considered to have become wealthy by exploiting natural resources, corrupting legislators, or other unethical means.
Origin of robber baron
1875-80 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for robber barons
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And let me tell you that of all the robber barons of music, Wagner was the worst.

    Old Fogy James Huneker
  • He'll have the robber barons squirmin' on the griddle pretty quick, an' wheat'll go straight to a dollar a bushel, sure!

    The Candidate Joseph Alexander Altsheler
  • I might paraphrase the slogan of the robber barons of the middle ages.

robber barons in Culture

robber barons definition

A term applied to certain leading American businessmen of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including Cornelius Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller. The term suggests that they acquired their wealth by means more often foul than fair.

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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