Definition of commissar in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkäməˌsär/ /ˈkɑməˌsɑr/

Translate commissar into Spanish


  • 1An official of the Communist Party, especially in the former Soviet Union or present-day China, responsible for political education and organization.

    ‘films that are passed by the political commissar’
    • ‘There are no aging commissars clinging on to party rule.’
    • ‘In time of war the political imperatives of the commissar might become subordinated to the professional needs of the field commander, but the concession was only temporary.’
    • ‘The code officer served as secretary and the commissar as prosecutor.’
    • ‘We were led upstairs, extremely exhausted, to the smarmy commissar's luxurious office with bedroom and en-suite bathroom.’
    • ‘The armies in which the left-wing commissars remained influential had taken the old Taiping route to Changsha and Wuhan.’
    • ‘The team was enjoying a little capitalist indulgence under the watchful eye of their commissar.’
    • ‘This elected the party's commissars and Lenin was the president.’
    • ‘There was a Nazi party commissar in every factory to make sure that the State's will was done.’
    • ‘Like the pope and the Soviet commissars of old, Greenspan appears to have discovered the political usefulness of posing as infallible.’
    • ‘Krementsov successfully portrays the scientists, their managers, the commissars and the local and national politicians.’
    • ‘Committing itself to preserving and protecting US capital markets, the Federal Reserve has since the onset of Mr. Greenspan's tenure in reality acted in a manner more befitting a Soviet commissar of the Cold War era.’
    1. 1.1A head of a government department in the former Soviet Union before 1946.
      ‘Again, people's commissars, like tsarist ministers, were heads of departments and belonged more to the bureaucracy than to politics.’
      • ‘Under the able leadership of the old Bolshevik A.P. Smirnov, the commissar of agriculture, expertise and science were privileged over politics.’
      • ‘He gave his commissar of enlightenment, Anatoly V. Lunarcharsky, two weeks to work out the details.’
    2. 1.2A strict or prescriptive figure of authority.
      ‘our academic commissars’
      • ‘Again, there is no sense of writing to please commissars or to follow a set political agenda; this music unmistakably comes from the heart.’
      • ‘The reason we are opposed to this law is that it is an extension of a very bad principle that turns police officers into commissars.’
      • ‘They still have an irrational fear of the newspaper accusing them of being socialist commissars, but we are living in a different century.’
      • ‘‘Shall we have a commissioner or a commissar?’’
      • ‘Instead the over-taxed, ripped-off and victimised motorist is forced by self-appointed traffic commissars into an ever-diminishing number of already clogged traffic arteries.’


Early 20th century (Russian Revolution): from Russian komissar, from French commissaire, from medieval Latin commissarius (see commissary).