Key Difference – Dictator vs Tyrant
The two nouns dictator and tyrant have very similar meanings. In modern context, they are often being used interchangeably. It’s important to look at the definition of the words to understand the difference between dictator and tyrant. Dictator refers to a ruler with total power over a country whereas tyrant refers to a cruel and oppressive ruler. A dictator is not necessarily a cruel and oppressive ruler, but most dictators tend to be tyrants. This is the key difference between dictator and tyrant.
Who is a Dictator?
A dictator is a ruler who has absolute power over a country. A dictatorship is a form of government where the country is ruled by a dictator. Dictators can be found throughout the history; in the Roman Empire, the position of dictator was a military post.
A dictator can come into power through fraud or a coup d’état; some may be even elected through democratic elections. But once they come into power, they might change the entire government and political system of the country to make sure that no one can remove them from their position. Dictators may suspend elections and civil liberties, proclaim a state of emergencies, start a cult of personality, go against the accepted laws to repress political opponents, etc. to maintain their power and position.
Although the term dictator doesn’t necessarily imply autocratic, oppressive and cruel rulers, most dictators are oppressive and cruel and abuse the human rights of the people.
Some examples of dictators in the modern times include Benito Mussolini (1922 to 1943), Augusto Pinochet (1973 to 1990), Joseph Stalin (1929 to 1953), Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (1979 onwards), and Fidel Castro (1959 -2006). (Some of these dictators are also tyrants.)
Who is a Tyrant?
A tyrant is an extremely oppressive, unjust, or cruel ruler. In modern English usage, the noun tyrant is used synonymously with dictator and can refer to a ruler who exercises absolute power oppressively or brutally. There is a good chance for a dictator, even one who starts with good intentions, to turn into a tyrant because of his unlimited power.
Plato and Aristotle have defined a tyrant as “one who rules without law, and uses extreme and cruel tactics—against his own people as well as others”.
Adolf Hitler (Germany), Pol Pot (Cambodia), and Idi Amin (Uganda) are some examples of tyrants.
What is the difference between Dictator and Tyrant?
Dictator: A dictator is a ruler who has absolute power over a country.
Tyrant: A tyrant is an extremely oppressive, unjust, or cruel ruler.
In modern usage, these two terms are often used interchangeably. In some cases, tyrant can also refer to a ruler with absolute power. Although dictators are not necessarily tyrants, but most dictators tend to be tyrants.
Dictator: Dictators may not be cruel or oppressive.
Tyrant: Tyrants are cruel and oppressive.
Dictator: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Fidel Castro are examples of dictators.
Tyrant: Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, and Benito Mussolini are examples of tyrants.
“Teodoro Obiang” By Amanda Lucidon / White House – File:Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo with Obamas 2014.jpg (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia