From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search





From French oligarchie, from Latin oligarchia, from Ancient Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía), from ὀλίγος (olígos, few) + ἀρχή (arkhḗ, rule).
By surface analysis, olig- (few) +‎ -archy (rule, command).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈɒlɪˌɡɑːki/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈɑːlɪˌɡɑɹki/, /ˈoʊlɪˌɡɑɹki/
  • Audio (UK):(file)


English Wikipedia has an article on:

oligarchy (countable and uncountable, plural oligarchies)

  1. A government run by only a few, often the wealthy.
    • 1981 September 6, “The Eclipse of the Oligarchs”, in The New York Times[1], →ISSN:
      It's an oligarchy because these families own and run almost everything that makes money in El Salvador. Coffee gave birth to the oligarchy in the late 19th century, and economic growth has revolved around them ever since.
    • 2016 January 17, “Wealthy cabals run America”, in Al Jazeera America, retrieved 18 January 2016:
      The Itasca Project is just one example of existing oligarchy, and a surprisingly open one at that.
  2. Those who make up an oligarchic government.
  3. A state ruled by such a government.

Derived terms

  • oligopoly (not to be confused, although oligarchs can also be oligopolists, as for example in petrostates)