Share this entry
tyranny Line breaks: tyr|anny
Pronunciation: /ˈtɪr(ə)ni/

Definition of tyranny in English:

noun (plural tyrannies)

[mass noun]
1Cruel and oppressive government or rule: refugees fleeing tyranny and oppression
More example sentences
  • He wanted to free Europe from tyranny, oppression and despotism.
  • Freedom fighters must have some way of overthrowing tyranny, oppression, or imperialism.
  • The Second World War has long been presented to the American people as a ‘Good War,’ a war for democracy against fascism and tyranny.
despotism, absolutism, absolute power, autocracy, dictatorship, undemocratic rule, reign of terror, totalitarianism, Fascism;
oppression, suppression, repression, subjugation, enslavement;
authoritarianism, high-handedness, imperiousness, bullying, harshness, strictness, severity, cruelty, brutality, ruthlessness, injustice, unjustness
1.1 [count noun] A state under cruel and oppressive government.
Example sentences
  • I want our governments to swiftly enable countries that have been tyrannies to become democracies, and to act in collapsed states to prevent genocide.
  • The first was the identification of socialism with the Stalinist tyrannies in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
  • A central problem of socialist politics is to prevent the workers (including socialist entrepreneurs) from creating tyrannies of producers.
1.2Cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control: the tyranny of her stepmother figurative the tyranny of the nine-to-five day
More example sentences
  • In order to be able to do this, we needed to be free from all kinds of arbitrary power, including majoritarian tyranny.
  • In our conflict with terror and tyranny, we have an unmatched advantage, a power that cannot be resisted, and that is the appeal of freedom to all mankind.
  • Chekhov's childhood was overshadowed by his father's tyranny and religious fanaticism.
1.3(Especially in ancient Greece) rule by one who has absolute power without legal right.
Example sentences
  • Ancient Athens emerged from tyranny for about 100 years and then self-destructed and the Roman republic was never more than an oligarchy until it too became an empire.
  • Was this association with tyranny and treachery the cause of Socrates' trial and conviction?
  • It is more than three hundred years since the Glorious Revolution was to have freed us from the tyranny of an absolute monarchy ruling by divine right.


the tyranny of distance
Australian /NZ The influence of distance on the course and outcomes of Australian and New Zealand historical events: we need tankers to overcome the tyranny of distance
[Popularized from the title of the book The Tyranny of Distance (1966) by Geoffrey Blainey]
More example sentences
  • Advances in technology of various kinds have made the idea of the tyranny of distance pretty much an obsolete concept.
  • The tyranny of distance will be overcome, enhancing the efficiencies of business.
  • Some analysts have optimistically suggested that advances in telecommunications may even act to end urban dominance, demolishing the tyranny of distance and transport costs that support urban centralization.


Pronunciation: /ˈtɪr(ə)nəs/
Example sentences
  • In modern America, private and corporate power, far more than the tyrannous reach of the state, was the major threat to political liberty.
  • Statute is too often knee-jerk, headline-led populism with predictably tyrannous consequences for electorally irrelevant minorities.
  • We are too passive in the face of a more and more intrusive and tyrannous government.
Pronunciation: /ˈtɪr(ə)nəsli/
Example sentences
  • In truth thy Lord destroyed not the townships tyrannously while their folk were doing right.
  • This is not news, but the trailer was tyrannously trapped inside the publisher's website.
  • So it angers and saddens me terribly that our officials despotically ignore the rule of law and tyrannously usurp powers not rightfully theirs.


Late Middle English: from Old French tyrannie, from late Latin tyrannia, from Latin turannus (see tyrant).

Definition of tyranny in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources