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despotic

Meaning: using violence and fear to stay in control or in power

For example:

  • He was the most despotic leader the country's ever had, so we had to get rid of him.

  • Foreign leaders call our president "despotic" because they don't like him, but he isn't despotic at all.

Note: One of many similar words like "tyrannical", "dictatorial", "autocratic", "authoritarian", etc. For advanced learners: These words always have negative connotations, and sometimes they're used as dysphemisms instead of more neutral words to make leaders or governments seem worse than they really are. They're mostly used in this way when the national interests of two or more countries conflict in some way, and the countries are engaged in a "war of words".

Quick Quiz:

Who would most people call despotic?

a. Adolf Hitler

b. Nelson Mandela

c. Pope Francis

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Contributor: Matt Errey