Characterized by a strict or oppressive adherence to authority or power, often at the expense of individual freedoms and liberties.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



Dictatorial, oppressive, tyrannical, autocratic, despotic, domineering, high-handed, imperious, totalitarian.


Democratic, liberal, permissive, lenient, laissez-faire.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun authoritarian, authoritarians
Verb None
Adjective authoritarian
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The government’s authoritarian policies led to widespread protests and civil unrest.

  • The company’s authoritarian CEO made all the decisions without consulting anyone else.

  • The teacher’s authoritarian approach to classroom management left little room for creativity or independent thinking.

  • The coach’s authoritarian coaching style often led to conflicts with his players.


The word “authoritarian” is an adjective that describes someone or something that is characterized by a strict or oppressive adherence to authority or power. It can be used to describe governments, leaders, organizations, or individuals who prioritize control and order over individual freedoms and liberties. The word has its roots in the Latin word “auctoritas,” meaning “authority” or “influence.”

The word “authoritarian” often has a negative connotation, as it implies that those in power are using their authority in a harmful or oppressive way. An authoritarian leader, for example, might make decisions without consulting others, or may suppress dissent or criticism from their followers. Similarly, an authoritarian government might restrict freedom of speech, limit access to information, or use force to maintain order and control.

The word “authoritarian” is often used in political contexts to describe governments or regimes that use authoritarian tactics to maintain power. In such cases, authoritarianism is often contrasted with democracy or liberalism, which prioritize individual freedoms and liberties. However, the word can also be used to describe non-political contexts, such as workplaces or schools, where an individual or group may use authoritarian tactics to maintain control.

There are related words that use prefixes or suffixes to modify the meaning of “authoritarian.” For example, “anti-authoritarian” uses the prefix “anti-” (meaning “against”) to describe someone who opposes authoritarianism, or who advocates for individual freedoms and liberties. “Authoritarianism” is a related noun that describes the system or practice of authoritarianism. Finally, the word “authoritative” is an adjective that is related to “authoritarian,” but with a more positive connotation. It describes someone who is knowledgeable and respected in a particular field or area, and whose opinions or judgments are seen as reliable and trustworthy.