1. A ruler with absolute power.
2. A person who wields power oppressively; a tyrant.
a. A Byzantine emperor or prince.
b. An Eastern Orthodox bishop or patriarch.
[French despote, from Medieval Latin despota, from Greek despotēs, master; see dem- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
des·potic (dĭ-spŏtĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.