Definition: Tsar

From New World Encyclopedia


Borrowed from Russian царь (carʹ), from Old East Slavic цьсарь (cĭsarĭ), from Proto-Slavic *cěsařь, from a Germanic language, from Proto-Germanic *kaisaraz, from Latin Caesar. Alternative spellings: czar, tzar, csar


tsar (plural tsars)

  1. (historical) An emperor of Russia (1547 to 1917) and of some South Slavic states.
  2. (figurative) A person with great power; an autocrat

Usage notes

  1. (emperor of Russia): Officially, emperors after 1721 were styled imperator (импера́тор (imperátor)) rather than tsar (царь (carʹ)), but the latter term is still commonly applied to them.
  2. The term sometimes refers to other emperors, besides those of Russia, e.g. the monarch of Bulgaria (1908-1946).
  3. The spelling czar is predominant in figurative and informal senses. Scholarly literature prefers tsar.

Derived terms

  • tsarina
  • tsarism
  • tsarist


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