Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

More specifically, if they have the power to wiretap your communications, powerful as in power, not as in strength.

A _____ [powerful] person who holds a menacingly huge amount of power who makes them _____.

This is the 2nd question where I had to disclose that I used Google to research, before asking this question. I searched for "word that means having a lot of power"

share|improve this question
    
This question is at risk of being closed and eventually deleted for lack of research. Please see the FAQ especially "how to ask a good question". If improved the question can always be reopened. A good online reference which will do both forward and backward lookups is OneLook.com. –  MετάEd Oct 26 '12 at 16:38
    
I've frequently encountered big brother used in the context you mention. But you are necessarily looking for a single word? Does potentate cut the mustard? –  Autoresponder Oct 26 '12 at 16:38
1  
A related word is megalomaniac, someone who wants power and to be feared. –  Zairja Oct 26 '12 at 18:11
1  
Dictatorial as user Fumble Fingers has enumerated along with other options? Also a related saying-Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely –  Autoresponder Oct 27 '12 at 16:01
1  
...dire gods... –  SF. Oct 29 '12 at 22:44

8 Answers 8

The type of scenario you use to describe what you're looking for has powerful cultural resonances. The suggested "Big Brother" (from Orwell's influential Nineteen Eighty-Four) is well recognized amongst native speakers. I've also heard "Stasi" and "KGB" used. They are metaphors, certainly, but widely recognized and gaining currency.

If it is an adjective you are looking for, you can certainly try "Big Brother-like" or "Stasi-like."

Omnipotent -- literally "all-powerful" -- is another adjective, often used to refer to gods.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for omnipotent. –  bib Oct 26 '12 at 21:04

I don't think there is a single common English word for OP's context. A motorbike or car, for example, might be overpowered or have an overpowered engine, but overpowered people would be people who've been overcome/defeated, not people with too much power.

Not so common, but easily understood in context, is over-empowered.

Note that in practice, the problem OP seeks to highlight normally either reflects a systemic problem (OP's "excessively powerful person" is part of a system lacking appropriate checks and balances), or that person has been overpromoted (he lacks the character attributes that would enable him to exercise his power without raising concerns among the people subject to his decisions and actions).

There are of course a whole host of words to describe people who have and exercise excessive power, but they're normally somewhat "politically loaded". For example, dictator, Fascist, [little] Hitler, authoritarian, despot, overlord, totalitarian, tyrant, etc.

share|improve this answer

Here are some to choose from: overbearing, domineering, authoritarian, oppressive, autocratic, dictatorial, coercive, imperious, despotic, overweening.

share|improve this answer

From your example sentence, I'd suggest using influential and formidable or ruthless, respectively.

Though you may also want to save "menacing" and use it elsewhere in your sentence:

They are an influential person who wields a huge amount of power - which makes them a menacingly formidable or ruthless opponent.

share|improve this answer

The term godlike is often used to refer to one who seems to have control over anothers destiny.

resembling God or a god in qualities such as power, beauty, or benevolence:
our parents are godlike figures to our childish eyes

SUPPLEMENT: Based on your comment, the word that comes to mind is puppetmaster

a person, group, or country that covertly controls another:
the puppetmaster behind the current administration

share|improve this answer

Overmighty has a respectable pedigree in precisely this context (one theory of politics holds that a state is constantly in danger from some group of overmighty subjects, whether the army or the bankers), but may be a little out-of-date.

share|improve this answer

Related to the suggestion of puppetmaster is the word string-puller, which is in my opinion a nice evocative cynical term.

string-puller

a person who is in control of events or other people’s actions:

Lynch was the main string-puller, nailing the last-minute point that ensured victory

share|improve this answer
up vote -2 down vote accepted

meglomaniac

  1. A person who is obsessed with their own power.

  2. A person who suffers delusions of their own power or importance.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.