Definition of tyranny in English:


Syllabification: tyr·an·ny
Pronunciation: /ˈtirənē

noun (plural tyrannies)

  • 1Cruel and oppressive government or rule: people who survive war and escape tyranny the removal of the regime may be the end of a tyranny
    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, absolute power, autocracy, dictatorship, totalitarianism, Fascism; oppression, repression, subjugation, enslavement; authoritarianism, bullying, severity, cruelty, brutality, ruthlessness
  • 1.1A nation under cruel and oppressive government.
    More 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: she resented his rages and his tyranny figurative the tyranny of the nine-to-five day his father’s tyrannies
    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.
    More 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.



More 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: /-nəslē/
More 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).

More definitions of tyranny

Definition of tyranny in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day astrogation
Pronunciation: ˌastrəˈgāSHən
(in science fiction) navigation in outer space