The English suffix -cracy means a form of government or a state having such government. It is derived from the ancient Greek kratein, meaning "to rule". Typically, the suffix is encountered in distinguishing between the following different forms of government:

  • adhocracy — decentralized rule.
  • aristocracy — literally rule by the best; in modern usage, rule by the upper class/by those with a birth-right to rule.
  • autocracy — (ultimate, despotic) rule by a single individual - literally self-rule, rule by oneself. The distinction between a monarchy and an autocracy is that the latter is one in which power overshadows bloodline or a divine right to rule. Note: Many dictatorships are autocracies, but it is not true to say that a dictatorship is automatically an autocracy.
  • democracy — literally rule by the people; usually rule by elected/nominated representatives of the people.
  • ecclesiocracy — rule in the name of God.
  • geniocracy — rule by geniuses.
  • hierocracy — rule by priests or religious ministers.
  • krytocracy — rule by the judiciary (compare with kritarchy).
  • meritocracy — rule upon the basis of ability (merit).
  • ochlocracy — mob rule
  • plutocracy — rule by the affluent class.
  • theocracy — rule by God.

Other words with this suffix include:

See also

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