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[tahy-ruh nt] /ˈtaɪ rənt/
a sovereign or other ruler who uses power oppressively or unjustly.
any person in a position of authority who exercises power oppressively or despotically.
a tyrannical or compulsory influence.
an absolute ruler, especially one in ancient Greece or Sicily.
Origin of tyrant
1250-1300; Middle English tirant < Old French < Latin tyrannus < Greek týrannos
Related forms
undertyrant, noun
1. despot, autocrat, dictator. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tyrant
  • Advantages: no more bullying and petty tin-pot tyrant behavior, no more secret deals and backstabbing.
  • But, that is about all a tyrant can pull out of his silly hat.
  • Evidence suggests that for every intuitive manager there is an autocratic tyrant.
  • As might be expected for large predators, the teeth of both tyrant dinosaurs were suited to different tasks.
  • In one scene, the tyrant stomps through camp and steps right on the expedition's scientist without a second thought.
  • For us ordinary people, though, the clock is a tyrant.
  • Rose's father was a bully and a tyrant and some kind of a handsome star and completely depressed and droll.
  • He was a notoriously hands-on boss, in many ways a tyrant.
  • Those who will not partake of her illusions she punishes as a tyrant would punish.
  • But he soon proved to be a lawless and brutal tyrant.
British Dictionary definitions for tyrant


a person who governs oppressively, unjustly, and arbitrarily; despot
any person who exercises authority in a tyrannical manner
anything that exercises tyrannical influence
(esp in ancient Greece) a ruler whose authority lacked the sanction of law or custom; usurper
Word Origin
C13: from Old French tyrant, from Latin tyrannus, from Greek turannos
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 tyrant

c.1300, "absolute ruler," from Old French tyrant (12c.), from Latin tyrannus "lord, master, tyrant" (cf. Spanish tirano, Italian tiranno), from Greek tyrannos "lord, master, sovereign, absolute ruler," a loan-word from a language of Asia Minor (probably Lydian); cf. Etruscan Turan "mistress, lady" (surname of Venus).

In the exact sense, a tyrant is an individual who arrogates to himself the royal authority without having a right to it. This is how the Greeks understood the word 'tyrant': they applied it indifferently to good and bad princes whose authority was not legitimate. [Rousseau, "The Social Contract"]
The spelling with -t arose in Old French by analogy with present participle endings in -ant. Fem. form tyranness is recorded from 1590 (Spenser); cf. Medieval Latin tyrannissa (late 14c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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