Here is the definition of czar for you

My question is simple. Why is Obama’s team using the word czar to describe people that are being selected to oversee changes in the country? Are they trying to remind us of Russian under czars and that they were overthrown during the Russian Revolution? So, I decided that if the word was being used that I would put the definition on my website. I found the one I like best because it gives a historical explanation to how the Russians began to use the word czar on So much so that I am quoting it on this site.


1. also tsar or tzar (zär, tsär) A male monarch or emperor, especially one of the emperors who ruled Russia until the revolution of 1917.
2. A person having great power; an autocrat: “the square-jawed, ruddy complacency of Jack Farrell, the czar of the Fifteenth Street police station” (Ernest Hemingway).
3. Informal. An appointed official having special powers to regulate or supervise an activity: a racetrack czar; an energy czar.

[Russian tsar’, from Old Russian tsĭsarĭ, emperor, king, from Old Church Slavonic tsěsarĭ, from Gothic kaisar, from Greek, from Latin Caesar, emperor. See caesar.]

Here is the origin of the word for the same site.

Many countries have had kings and emperors, monarchs and tyrants, dictators and autocrats. But only Russia has had a real czar.

The character of a czar was established by the first Russian ruler to bear that title, Ivan IV. When he was seventeen, in 1547, he was crowned czar of all Russia. By the time of his death thirty-seven years later, he had earned the nickname Ivan the Terrible. He governed absolutely, and he ruthlessly eliminated anyone who stood in his way, including not only the nobility but also his son and heir, Ivan, whom he killed in a rage. He had seven wives, not at once but in succession. When he tired of one, she would be murdered or sent off to a nunnery. But he was also intelligent, learned, and a talented writer. It was during his reign that printing was introduced to Russia.

Thus Ivan, and his successors, gave a twist to a 1600-year-old name for a ruler. It had begun in ancient Rome with the family name of Julius Caesar. Julius’s adopted son Octavius, later Augustus Caesar, became the first Roman emperor. After him, Roman emperors took Caesar as a title. The word made its way into Russian as tsar. Our spelling czar comes from a Latin commentary on Ivan’s coronation published in 1549; czar appears in English writing as early as 1555. In the wake of czar came ukase, the Russian word for an imperial decree and thus for any authoritarian edict. We began using it in English as early as 1729.

Updated on 2/24/2009 at 10:55AM
It was suggested that I find a definition that shows when the word was first used in the United States as slang as it is now. I found this article on Slate that gives a good history of the word. I am glad to hear that Obama’s team isn’t that happy with the use of the word either.
Slate on the word czar

Oh, and I guess I should point out that I have studied Russian history since high school, so when I hear the word czar, I associate it with the autocrat rulers of Russia and not the slang use we have for it in the United States.


16 thoughts on “Here is the definition of czar for you

  1. djcnor says:

    No, because czar has been used in the way it is being used for the Obama administration for many years now. A really good dictionary could probably tell you which administration first used the word in the non-Russian-tyrant was, but this admin sure wasn’t the first.

  2. Sephardi says:

    The Russians actually acquired the right to the title of Caesar and the use of Caesar’s Imperial standard, the double-headed eagle, the sword and the orb, as the result of the marriage of the niece of the last Emperor of Byzantium to the then Prince of Muscovy around the time of that Constantine’s city fell to the Turks in 1453.

    But that’s right “. . . only Russia has had a real czar.” Only Russia has Caesar, the Roman Emperor’s ancient throne. Emperors rule over empires. They are not so much the ruler of each nation but the ruler over the rulers of nations. This is the Byzantine world view. Only Russia has the anointed throne of the King of Kings.

    Just think what that means at this point in History.

  3. Nicole says:

    I just looked up the definition of “czar” because I was wondering why the Obama admin. keeps appointing czar’s. Apparently he has changed how our governments works! Even if they dont mean it in the same way as the Russians I think it is a very poor choice of language, especially when it seems they are trying to take control of everything.

  4. Dolores says:

    Wikipedia lists “czars’ appointed by presidents going back to Roosevelt. To date, Obama has appointed 33. George W. Bush appointed 45. See Wikipedia for Offices and Appointees!

  5. garnette says:

    The total number of appointees includes multiple people being appointed to the same czar position. The total number of czar jobs was 35 over 8 years in office. In a fraction of that time, Obama has managed to appoint close to the same number of people. It should also be noted that while some of these appointees are to czar positions created by previous presidents, most are new czar positions. It should also be noted that a few of the czar positions that Bush created were in response to crisis in this country, such as 9/11, Katrina, and the bird flu. By this he was responding to national issues rather than creating czar positions to fill instead of filling the positions in his cabinet.

    Here is the link to the Wikipedia list, which they saw is incomplete.

  6. leceQuema says:

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  7. SuperMog says:

    One of my friends already told me about this place and I do not regret that I found this article.

  8. Leo says:

    What Obama is doing is better described by another Russian term, though historically it was used after czars or tsars, commissar.

  9. srlewis says:

    For the record: President Obama did not coin the term. And he is not “trying to take over everything.” For that, you’d need to look back to Duhbya.

    Since the Nixon administration, ‘czar’ has come to mean ‘expert.’ There are many terms in current use that bear no relation at all to their original definition. Your Russian means nothing in American government.

  10. Guy Raught says:

    Whoever coined this phrase made a poor choice. However , with the Obama adm. we are hearing more and more “slang” words being used. It seems our Govt. is changing ,along with our values. This is not the “change” that we expected!

  11. huntn says:

    No it is not the hope or change that we were praying for. Oh, my mistake, I forgot, we are no longer allowed to pray for our country!!!!

  12. Lucy says:

    Obama is a socialist/marxist who was raised by communist grandparents. He & Nancy Pelosi were/are top offiials of the new socialist party of America. To sr lewis: Obama is a dictator who “warned” the Supreme Court today. He has taken over all the water in this country & put it under the control of the Defense Dept. He has taken control of all farm machinery, equipment, down to our garden seeds. He has trashed the first & fourth ammendment & working on the second. He can come to your home, take you away without a reason or arrest warrent & put you in an undisclosed location for the rest of your life. He can take the food out of your pantry. He has taken over the health care so we no longer have a choice. He has taken control of our speech with the “hate crimes” idiotic bill. Our news is censored. If you want the real news, read the Canada Free Press, the Jeruselem Post or the UK online. He can take your land away from you. He has written 114 executive orders behind our backs, Google it. He has signed an EO to assinate any American citizen he so chooses. He is working on a way to force entrancce into your home to make sure you are raising your children the way he wants them to be raised and to make sure you are teaching that sodomy is good. He lied on the DADT survey of soldiers. The majority of soldiers do not want to serve with gays and a lot of them didn ‘t get their survey until after the law was repealed.. There is a provision in the health care bill for his private army. Why? I don’t think the taxpayers should have to fund it but we will have to. Our taxpayer money is going to foreign countries to rehab mosques & pay for abortions. There is a provision for microchipping in the HC law. Also in the HC law, if you sell or buy property, you have to pay 3.8% tax to the gov’t. I could go on & on but I hope you get the picture by now. His czars can do whatever they want. They answer only to him, not we the people. We have been asleep while our rights & freedom has been quietly taken away. The elites in both parties are rotten to the core. Most people don’t know these things so I hope you will do your part & pass this around & keep an eye on EO’s. Search to find out which bills have been taken to the floor.

  13. Narda says:

    Obama, or any member of the Federal government, using the term Czar (in any spelling) is against the law of the Constitution.
    Article I, Section 9, paragraph 7:
    “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States, and no person holding any of profit or trust under them shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title of any kid whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

  14. Because ignorant people only cared to feel good about electing a
    black man, we have the most inept, corrupt and dictatorial president
    in the history of this still, almost-great country. The election of Barack
    Obama to the presidency is a perfect example of “Be careful what
    you wish for.” Almost as traitorous is the mainstream media that
    covers up all of Obama’s misdeeds. Does the public know that Obama
    gave $8 billion to the Muslim Brotherhood? Why should American taxpayers pay to rehabilitate mosques overseas? Do we pay to
    fix Catholic cathedrals or Baptist churches? Obama and his white-hating wife have no respect at all for American values because they
    really do not like or respect them. Constant proof of Obama’s disrespect is how often he puts his feet on the historic Oval Office desk and, in fact, all other Oval Office furniture. While minor compared to his many other
    and major assaults on America, it is a microcosm of the Obama attitude.
    Sharia law is a snake pit of vile punishments, such as if a non-Muslim
    man marries a Muslim woman, the punishment for which is death.
    You like that one? How about this: A Muslim man who drops out of the
    Muslim faith: Punishment is death. Even criticizing ANY PART of the
    Quran means death. There is more, but no room to post! Yet Obama’s appointment of a Sharia Law Czar was completely ignored by the
    mainstream media. Is there a Christian or Jewish Czar in the
    White House? Ya happy, now, you 47 percenters?

  15. Sherry says:

    Isn’t it interesting, now it was used again, with Ebola. Thank you for your site. It was nagging at me about the term.
    Now, I see.

    Take care.

  16. Andrew Green says:

    Funny how all American commentary inevitably devolves into a rant about how President Obama is the “worst” at such and such. The facts don’t support that. An example is the # of Executive Orders by President. History will tell. The good thing is that the Affordable Health Care Act was labelled Obamacare by the Republicans and so, if and when it proves to be an historical success, it will be his legacy. Thanks Republicans.

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