sa·trap (sātrăp′, sătrăp′)
1. A governor of a province in ancient Persia.
2. A ruler.
3. A subordinate bureaucrat or official: "The satraps of Capitol Hill will not sit idly by" (David Nyhan).
4. Usage Problem A satrapy.
[Middle English satrape, from Old French, from Latin satrapēs, from Greek, from Old Persian khshathrapāvā, protector of the province : khshathra-, realm, province + pāvā, protector; see pā- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: In its primary and figurative senses, satrap refers to a person. Sometimes the word is used to refer to the geographical location or organization under the control of a satrap, as in this quotation from a 2014 editorial in Forbes magazine:"Plunging oil prices are hammering Moscow far more than are the tepid, half-hearted sanctions imposed by the West after Putin's ... machinations to effectively make Ukraine a Russian satrap." The correct term for this sense, however, is satrapy, and most writers maintain this distinction.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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.