AskDefine | Define autocratic

Dictionary Definition

autocratic adj
1 of the nature of or relating to an autocrat; "an autocratic ruler" [syn: autocratical]
2 relating to or of the nature of or having characteristics of an autocracy; "an autocratic government"; "autocratic political rule" [syn: autocratical]
3 offensively self-assured or given to exercising usually unwarranted power; "an autocratic person"; "autocratic behavior"; "a bossy way of ordering others around"; "a rather aggressive and dominating character"; "managed the employees in an aloof magisterial way"; "a swaggering peremptory manner" [syn: bossy, dominating, high-and-mighty, magisterial, peremptory]
4 characteristic of an absolute ruler or absolute rule; having absolute sovereignty; "an authoritarian regime"; "autocratic government"; "despotic rulers"; "a dictatorial rule that lasted for the duration of the war"; "a tyrannical government" [syn: authoritarian, dictatorial, despotic, tyrannical]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Of or pertaining to autocracy or to an autocrat; absolute; holding independent and arbitrary powers of government.
    In recent times the British prime minister has become increasingly autocratic.
  2. Of or pertaining to the manner of an autocrat.
    Despite his lack of any actual authority his autocratic demeanour annoyed many of his colleagues.

Extensive Definition

An autocracy is a form of government in which the political power is held by a single self-appointed ruler. The term autocrat is derived from the Greek word autocratic (lit. "self-ruler", or to: "rule by one's self"). Compare with oligarchy (literally means rule by the few) and democracy (rule by the majority).
Today it is usually seen as synonymous with despot, tyrant and/or dictator, though each of these terms originally had a separate and distinct meaning (see their respective articles).
Autocracy is not synonymous with totalitarianism, as this concept was precisely forged to distinguish modern regimes that appeared in the 1920s from traditional dictatorships. It also isn't synonymous with military dictatorship, as these often take the form of "collective presidencies" (see the South-American juntas). However, an autocracy may be totalitarian or be a military dictatorship.
The term monarchy also differs in that it emphasizes the hereditary characteristic, though some Slavic monarchs, specifically Russian Emperors traditionally included the title "autocrat" as part of their official styles. The actual power of the monarch may be limited. Historically, many monarchs ruled autocratically (see absolute monarchy) but eventually their power was diminished and dissolved with the introduction of constitutions giving the people the power to make decisions for themselves through elected bodies of government.
The autocrat needs some kind of power structure to rule. Very few rulers were in the position to rule with only their personal charisma and skills however great they may be without the help of others. Most historical autocrats depended on their nobles, the military, the priesthood or others, who could turn against the ruler and depose or murder him (or her). The true nature of a historical autocracy and the difference between an autocracy and an oligarchy can be difficult to judge.
autocratic in Asturian: Autocracia
autocratic in Bosnian: Autokratija
autocratic in Catalan: Autocràcia
autocratic in Czech: Autokracie
autocratic in German: Autokratie
autocratic in Spanish: Autocracia
autocratic in Persian: حکومت استبدادی
autocratic in French: Autocratie
autocratic in Galician: Autocracia
autocratic in Hungarian: Autokrácia
autocratic in Indonesian: Otokrasi
autocratic in Italian: Autocrazia
autocratic in Macedonian: Автократија
autocratic in Japanese: 専制政治
autocratic in Lithuanian: Autokratija
autocratic in Dutch: Autocratie
autocratic in Polish: Autokracja
autocratic in Portuguese: Autocracia
autocratic in Russian: Автократия
autocratic in Serbo-Croatian: Autokracija
autocratic in Simple English: Autocracy
autocratic in Slovenian: Avtokracija
autocratic in Serbian: Аутократија
autocratic in Swedish: Autokrati
autocratic in Ukrainian: Автократія
autocratic in Chinese: 独裁

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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