[[File:Historical dictators.jpg|thumb|upright=1.25|20th-century leaders typically described as dictators, from left to right and top to bottom, include Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; Adolf Hitler, Führer of Germany; Augusto Pinochet, President of Junta Government; Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party; Benito Mussolini, Duce and Prime Minister of Italy; Kim Il Sung, Supreme Leader of North Korea]]
A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power. A dictatorship is a state ruled by one dictator or by a small clique. The word originated as the title of a Roman dictator elected by the Roman Senate to rule the republic in times of emergency.
Like the term tyrant, and to a lesser degree autocrat, dictator came to be used almost exclusively as a non-titular term for oppressive rule. In modern usage the term dictator is generally used to describe a leader who holds or abuses an extraordinary amount