Etymology
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rector (n.)

late 14c., rectour (late 13c. as a surname, early 13c. in Anglo-Latin), "ruler of a country or people" (a sense now obsolete), from Latin rector "ruler, governor, director, guide," from rect-, past participle stem of regere "to rule, guide" (from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line," thus "to lead, rule").

The meaning "head of a college or religious community" is by early 15c., though the exact religious sense varies across place and time and with different denominations. Used originally of Roman governors and God; by 18c. generally restricted to clergymen and college heads. Fem. forms were rectress (c. 1600); rectrix (1610s). Related: Rectorship; rectorial.

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dynasty (n.)

"a race or succession of sovereigns from the same line or family governing a country," mid-15c. (earlier dynastia, late 14c.), from Medieval Latin dynastia, from Greek dynasteia "power, lordship, sovereignty," from dynastes "ruler, chief," from dynasthai "have power," which is of unknown origin.

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despot (n.)

"absolute ruler," 1560s, in Italian form dispotto (1580s as despot); from Medieval Latin despota, from Greek despotēs "master of a household, lord, absolute ruler," from PIE *dems-pota- "house-master," from the genitive of the root *dem- "house, household" + second element from PIE root *poti- "powerful; lord." The compound might be prehistoric; compare Sanskrit dampati- "lord."

Originally in English in reference to Byzantine rulers or Christian rulers in Ottoman provinces and often neutral. But it had been faintly pejorative in Greek (ruler of an un-free people), and it was used in various languages for Roman emperors. It became fully negative with the French Revolution, where it was applied to Louis XVI. In English the sense of "one who governs according to his own will, under a recognized right but uncontrolled by constitutional restrictions or the wishes of his subjects" is by 1610s; by c. 1800 it was used generally for "a tyrant, an oppressor."

The Greek female equivalent was despoina "lady, queen, mistress," source of the fem. proper name Despina.

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Agamemnon 

king of Mycenae, leader of the Greeks in the Trojan War, his name perhaps represents Greek *Aga-med-mon, literally "ruling mightily," from intensifying prefix aga- "very much" + medon "ruler" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures"). But others (Liddell & Scott) connect the second part with menein "to stay, abide, remain," for a literal sense "very steadfast."

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sachem (n.)

chief of a Native American tribe, 1620s, from Narragansett (Algonquian) sachim "chief, ruler," cognate with Abenaki sangman, Delaware sakima, Micmac sakumow, Penobscot sagumo. Applied in jocular use to a prominent member of any society from 1680s; specific political use in U.S. is by 1890, from its use in New York City as the title of the 12 high officials of the Tammany Society.

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*wal- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to be strong."

It forms all or part of: ambivalence; Arnold; avail; bivalent; convalesce; countervail; Donald; equivalent; evaluation; Gerald; Harold; invalid (adj.1) "not strong, infirm;" invalid (adj.2) "of no legal force;" Isold; multivalent; polyvalent; prevalent; prevail; Reynold; Ronald; valediction; valence; Valerie; valetudinarian; valiance; valiant; valid; valor; value; Vladimir; Walter; wield.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin valere "be strong, be well, be worth;" Old Church Slavonic vlasti "to rule over;" Lithuanian valdyti "to have power;" Celtic *walos- "ruler," Old Irish flaith "dominion," Welsh gallu "to be able;" Old English wealdan "to rule," Old High German -walt, -wald "power" (in personal names), Old Norse valdr "ruler."

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archon (n.)

one of the nine chief magistrates of ancient Athens, 1650s, from Greek arkhon "ruler, commander, chief, captain," noun use of present participle of arkhein "be the first," thence "to begin, begin from or with, make preparation for;" also "to rule, lead the way, govern, rule over, be leader of," a word of uncertain origin.

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sovereign (n.)

late 13c., soverain, "superior, ruler, master, one who is superior to or has power over another," from Old French soverain "sovereign, lord, ruler," noun use of adjective meaning "highest, supreme, chief" (see sovereign (adj.)). Specifically by c. 1300 as "a king or queen, a ruler of a realm." Also of Church authorities and heads of orders or houses as well as local civic officials.

Middle English had a tendency to add an unetymological -t to it, as in pheasant, tyrant. The meaning "gold coin worth 22s 6d" is attested from late 15c.; the value of it changed 1817 to 1 pound. In the political writings of 17c.-18c. it often has a sense of "the populace as the source of political power, the community in its collective and legislative capacity" and can be opposed to monarch.

Should it be argued, that a government like this, where the sovereignty resides in the whole body of the people, is a democracy ; it may be answered, that the right of sovereignty in all nations is unalienable and indivisible, and does and can reside nowhere else ; but, not to recur to a principle so general, the exercise, as well as the right of sovereignty, in Rome, resided in the people, but the government was not a democracy. In America, the right of sovereignty resides indisputably in the body of the people, and they have the whole property of land. [John Adams, "Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America," 1787-88]


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caliph (n.)

late 14c., "ruler of a Muslim country," from Old French caliphe (12c., also algalife), from Medieval Latin califa, from Arabic khalifa "successor" (from khalafa "succeed"). The title given to the successor of Muhammad as leader of the community and defender of the faith; the first was Abu-Bakr, who succeeded Muhammad in the role of leader of the faithful after the prophet's death.

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Richard 

masc. proper name, Middle English Rycharde, from Old French Richard, from Old High German Ricohard "strong in rule," from Proto-Germanic *rik- "ruler" (see rich) + *harthu "hard," from PIE *kar-o- (from PIE root *kar- "hard"). "One of the most popular names introduced by the Normans. Usually Latinized as Ricardus, the common form was Ricard, whence the pet form Rick, etc." ["Dictionary of English Surnames"]

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