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From Middle English tirannye, from Old French tyrannie, from Medieval Latin tyrannia, tyrania, from Ancient Greek τυραννία (turannía, tyranny), from τύραννος (túrannos, lord, master, sovereign, tyrant).


  • IPA(key): /ˈtɪɹəni/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪɹəni


tyranny (countable and uncountable, plural tyrannies)

  1. A government in which a single ruler (a tyrant) has absolute power; this system of government.
  2. The office or jurisdiction of an absolute ruler.
  3. Absolute power, or its use.
  4. A system of government in which power is exercised on behalf of the ruler or ruling class, without regard to the wishes of the governed.
    • c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. [] The First Part [], 2nd edition, part 1, London: [] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, [], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire, London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, Act II, scene i:
      He that with ſhepheards and a litle ſpoyle,
      Durſt in diſdaine of wrong and tyrannie,
      Defend his freedome gainſt a Monarchie:
      What will he doe ſupported by a king?
    • 2019 April 28, Hagai El-Ad, “What kind of democracy deports human rights workers?”, in Yoni Molad, transl., +972 Magazine[1]:
      Control, dispossession, violence, and tyranny are not “defensive”: they are part of an organized, ongoing aggression.
  5. Extreme severity or rigour.


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Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of tirannye