c. 1300, "absolute ruler," especially one without legal right; "cruel, oppressive ruler," from Old French tiran, tyrant (12c.), from Latin tyrannus "lord, master, monarch, despot," especially "arbitrary ruler, cruel governor, autocrat" (source also of Spanish tirano, Italian tiranno), from Greek tyrannos "lord, master, sovereign, absolute ruler unlimited by law or constitution," a loan-word from a language of Asia Minor (probably Lydian); Klein compares Etruscan Turan "mistress, lady" (surname of Venus).
In the exact sense, a tyrant is an individual who arrogates to himself the royal authority without having a right to it. This is how the Greeks understood the word 'tyrant': they applied it indifferently to good and bad princes whose authority was not legitimate. [Rousseau, "The Social Contract"]
Originally in Greek the word was not applied to old hereditary sovereignties (basileiai) and despotic kings, but it was used of usurpers, even when popular, moderate, and just (such as Cypselus of Corinth), however it soon became a word of reproach in the usual modern sense. The unetymological spelling with -t arose in Old French by analogy with present-participle endings in -ant. Fem. form tyranness is recorded from 1590 (Spenser); Medieval Latin had tyrannissa (late 14c.).
late 14c., "cruel or unjust use of power; the government of a tyrant," from Old French tyranie (13c.), from Late Latin tyrannia "tyranny," from Greek tyrannia "rule of a tyrant, absolute power," from tyrannos "master" (see tyrant).
carnivorous Cretaceous bipedal dinosaur, 1905, Modern Latin genus name, coined by H.F. Osborn (published 1906 in "Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History" XXI, p.259) from Greek tyrannos "tyrant" (see tyrant) + -saurus. Abbreviated name T. rex attested by 1970 (apparently first as the band name).
well-known game bird, long domesticated in Europe, c. 1300 fesaunt (mid-12c. as a surname), from Anglo-French fesaunt, Old French faisan (13c.) "pheasant," from Latin phasianus (Medieval Latin fasianus), from Greek phasianos "a pheasant," literally "Phasian bird," from Phasis, the river flowing into the Black Sea in Colchis, where the birds were said to have been numerous.
The ph- was restored in English late 14c. (see ph). The unetymological -t is due to confusion with -ant, suffix of nouns formed from present participle of verbs in first Latin conjugation (compare ancient, pageant, tyrant, peasant). The Latin word also is the source of Spanish faisan, Portuguese feisão, German Fasan, Russian bazhantu.
masc. proper name, also name of an Old Testament angel, from Hebrew Gabhri el, literally "man of God," from gebher "man" + El "God." First element is from base of verb gabhar "was strong" (compare Arabic jabr "strong, young man;" jabbar "tyrant"). Gabriel's hounds (17c.) was a folk explanation for the cacophony of wild geese flying over, hidden by clouds or night.
late 14c., in translations of the Old Testament, "the governor of a province of ancient Persia," from Latin satrapes, from Greek satrapēs, exatrapēs, from Old Persian xšathrapavan-, literally "guardian of the realm," from xšathra- "realm, province" (related to xšayathiya "king," cognate with Sanskrit kshatra; see shah) + pavan- "guardian" (from PIE root *pa- "to feed; to guard, protect").
Extended by late 14c. to any autocratic superior, and figuratively to a despotic official under a tyrant, a sense, according to OED, also found in Medieval Latin and all the Romanic languages. Related: Satrapy (n.); satrapess (n.); satrapal; satrapial; satrapian.
son of Laius and Jocasta, the king and queen of Thebes, from Greek Oidipous, literally "swollen-foot," from oidan "to swell" (from PIE *oid-; see edema) + pous (genitive podos) "foot," from PIE root *ped- "foot." Shelley titled his play based on Sophocles' work "Swellfoot the Tyrant." Oedipus complex (1910) was coined by Freud. In Latin, figurative references to Oedipus generally referred to solving riddles. Oedipus effect (1957) is Karl Popper's term for "the self-fulfilling nature of prophecies or predictions."
flattering courtier of Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse; his name in Greek means literally "fame of the people," from dēmos, damos "people" (see demotic) + -kles "fame," a common ending in Greek proper names, related to kleos "rumor, report, news; good report, fame, glory," from PIE *klew-yo-, suffixed form of root *kleu- "to hear." To teach Damocles the peril that accompanies a tyrant's pleasures, Dionysius seated him at a banquet with a sword suspended above his head by a single hair. Hence the figurative use of sword of Damocles, by 1747. Related: Damoclean.