We call a well known actor, a 'famous' actor. Yet a well known criminal is called a 'notorious' criminal.

In similar vein, a popular leader would be called a 'great' leader. But what would you call the same when it's a 'great' dictator?

  • Not sure if it's still a thing, but around 1980 "great", said with a descending tone, was a popular interjection when expressing sadness about something.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 15, 2020 at 12:51
  • great comming from a sense rough, coarse, crass (big strains?), to rub, it seems to fit the bill quite well itself.
    – vectory
    Feb 15, 2020 at 14:19

2 Answers 2



Which means wicked or deplorable.

Heinous - of a person or wrongful act, especially a crime) utterly odious or wicked. "a battery of heinous crimes"

From Middle French ‘haine’ meaning ‘hate’.

  • ‘A heinous dictator’



well, it really depends upon what you are pointing out. The world has so many examples of dictators. President Xi is the most powerful ever, but clearly the world would agree that Hitler was worse. Idi Amin was vile, yet the Lees of Singapore are dictators but it is a beautiful place with happy people. The word you are looking for is not a descriptor or despots, but rather is a descriptor of how they rule.

  • I would say that a 'great' leader was one who, in the opinion of history, has been good for their country, rather than just being 'popular'. You could call a 'bad' dictator notorious. Feb 15, 2020 at 9:38
  • Hey, thanks for mentioning Emperor Xi jin pooh, even if it's sort of off topic. I did think of him when drafting the question. But I was thinking more along the lines of how the great Chinese firewall is not an apt name for that oppressive Internet iron curtain. Feb 15, 2020 at 14:36

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