They all look the same to me. Monarchies with a different name according to time and place.

  • 3
    I think this question will be closed as too basic but have you tried reading the wikipedia page regarding Imperial, royal and noble ranks? You can also find equivalent ranks outside the classic european. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial,_royal_and_noble_ranks
    – Viralk
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 21:23
  • 2
    If they all walk into a bar, you have the makings of a great joke...
    – Meir
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 21:31
  • Basic or not I don't think the StackExchange forums where meant for only expert people to ask questions. Wikipedia is never deemed professional. And someone else could have the same trouble differentiating between these terms. Anyway I wouldn't mind if someone with administration privileges closed the topic, but pointing it out like this could draw some negative bias towards it.
    – Demis
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 21:34
  • 5
    @Demis I know that wikipedia may not be the perfect source but it can be starting point for further research. Your question is very broad and generic, this makes very hard to answer precisely and dimostrate no initial research on the subject.
    – Viralk
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 21:50
  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because it appears to be about comparing dictionary definitions rather than about history.
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 21:59

1 Answer 1


Let's start with the oldest one.

Tyrant comes from ancient greek τύραννος, tyrannos. It means an absolut ruler that s unbound by law. An Absolute Ruler. The word is connotated negatively since Plato. A tyrant is always an autocrat, a ruler that holds all powers, but not all autocrats are tyrants. Generally, a Tyrant usurped his power in some way or another. Peisistratos wasn't bad but he made a power grabby paying his brutes to enforce his rule, making him a tyrant. His sons were tyrants because Peisestratos was.

Dictator started as a Roman military rank: dictator comes from dictare, to rule/govern/dictate. It was an emergency rank where one person was given the supreme rulership for 6 months. Gaius Iulius Caesar was given this power repeatedly, he handed it back again and again. Shortly after senate voted to grant it to him for life, he was stabbed to death. The term became connotated negatively only during the decades after this. A dictator is an Autocrat.

Next is a czar, char and so on. Or in Latin: CAESAR. These are variants of the cognomen of Gaius Iulius Caesar. In Roman imperial times the word became a title, and that title was adapted by various empires for their supreme rulers. The term is not negatively connotated. The German Word Kaiser comes from this and means emperor.

Emperor. This stems from Imperator - the power that a Roman Dictator was granted in an emergency, and that usually was handled by the two consoles in Roman Republican times. In imperial times, every imperator was a caesar: the official title was Imperator Caesar.

King. King is of anglo-saxon origin as cyning. It means something like hailing from a noble family. It is equivalent to roman Rex, which means ruler. Since the classic Roman times had typically people of the rank of a rex bending the knee to the imperium (empire) and its leadership, be them the two elected consuls or a single imperator caesar, or be an independant leader. As an example, Gaius Iulius said, that Ariovistus was Rex Germanorum - A/The king of Germanic People.

Leaves us with Dynast. A Dynast is generally any ruler that stems from a Dynasty. As a modern example, any Japanese tenno (~emperor) is from the same Dynasty, and the acting tenno is as a result a dynast. Queen Elisabeth II is a member of the Windsor dynasty, which branched from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and via a few other corners can trace lineage back to William the Bastard, and so she is a dynast. Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert was the King of Prussia and Emperor of the German Kaiserreich from 1888 to 1918 - and so was in that time the Dynast of the Hohenzollern.

  • Thank you ! This was so informative. I never thought a Czar could be related to ancient Rome. Too bad the question was closed.
    – Demis
    Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 3:36
  • @Trish Great answer, although my understanding of Dynast actually includes anyone who is in the line of succession to a title - generally royal/princely - by blood, not by marriage. So Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie are dynasts, although highly unlikely ever to be queens. The Duchess of Cambridge, OTOH, whilst she almost certainly will be Queen Consort, is not a dynast.
    – TheHonRose
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 8:11

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