I use Cambridge online dictionary as my reference. In this dictionary, the explanations say:
- dictator: (disapproving) a leader who has complete power in a country and has not been elected by the people.
- tyrant: a ruler who has unlimited power over other people, and uses it unfairly and cruelly.
- despot: a person, especially a ruler, who has unlimited power over other people, and often uses it unfairly and cruelly.
What confused me are the examples given for despot (excerpted from the dictionary page):
- an evil despot
- The king was regarded as having been an enlightened despot.
I want to confirm whether my following understanding is correct or not:
It looks to me that a dictator or tyrant is always a bad ruler who abuses the power, but a despot is not necessarily bad (as the example says "an enlightened despot"). Am I right?
Although a despot is not necessarily a bad ruler, when some ruler is described as a despot, it is usually implied that the ruler is an evil one unless some positive adjective such as "enlightened" is used. Am I right?