Definition of despotism in English:


Line breaks: des¦pot|ism
Pronunciation: /ˈdɛspətɪz(ə)m


[mass noun]
  • 1The exercise of absolute power, especially in a cruel and oppressive way: the ideology of enlightened despotism
    More example sentences
    • The fact is that every Christian government that preceded them thought that Christianity implied tyranny, despotism, and the oppression of non-Christians.
    • He wanted to free Europe from tyranny, oppression and despotism.
    • I do admire in that work your condemnation of arbitrary power and despotism as destructive of freedom.
  • 1.1 [count noun] A country or political system where the ruler holds absolute power: some nations are democracies, others are despotisms
    More example sentences
    • Machiavelli relied heavily on the dichotomy between republican and princely government, Montesquieu on a trichotomy of republics, monarchies, and despotisms.
    • Russia closely resembled the ancient Oriental despotisms such as those in Mesopotamia and pharaonic Egypt, where the rulers were the exclusive owners of all that lay within their domain.
    • Of course, history has been replete with despotisms and petty dictatorships.


early 18th century: from French despotisme, from despote (see despot).

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