Understanding the Idiom: "power-hungry" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English

In today’s world, power is often equated with success. However, when someone becomes too obsessed with obtaining power, it can lead to negative consequences for both themselves and those around them. The idiom “power-hungry” refers to this insatiable desire for power at any cost.

This phrase can be used to describe individuals who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, even if it means manipulating others or breaking rules. It can also refer to organizations or governments that prioritize their own interests over the well-being of their citizens.

The term “power-hungry” has a negative connotation and is often associated with greed and corruption. Those who are labeled as such may be seen as untrustworthy or dangerous.

Understanding the implications of this idiom is important in navigating relationships and situations where power dynamics are at play. By recognizing signs of power hunger, one can take steps to protect themselves from potential harm.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “power-hungry”

The phrase “power-hungry” is a common idiom used to describe individuals who are excessively ambitious and seek to gain control or influence over others. This idiom has been in use for centuries, with its origins dating back to ancient times when rulers sought to expand their territories and dominate other nations.

Throughout history, there have been countless examples of power-hungry individuals who have caused chaos and destruction in their pursuit of dominance. From emperors and kings to dictators and warlords, these figures have left a lasting impact on society and continue to be studied by historians today.

In modern times, the term “power-hungry” is often used in political contexts to describe politicians who seek to amass power at any cost. Whether it’s through manipulation, coercion, or outright corruption, these individuals are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.

Despite its negative connotations, the concept of power has always played an important role in human society. From tribal leaders in ancient civilizations to CEOs of multinational corporations today, those who possess power have the ability to shape the world around them.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “power-hungry”

The idiom “power-hungry” is a commonly used phrase in English language that describes an individual’s insatiable desire for power. This phrase can be used to describe a person who is obsessed with gaining control over others or situations, often at the expense of others’ well-being.

There are several variations of this idiom that are frequently used in different contexts. For instance, one might use the term “power-mad” to describe someone who has become completely consumed by their lust for power. Similarly, the term “control freak” can be used to refer to someone who constantly seeks to manipulate and dominate those around them.

Another variation of this idiom is “ambitious”, which may not necessarily have negative connotations like other variations do. An ambitious person may strive for success and recognition but does not necessarily seek power over others.

In political discourse, the term “authoritarian” is often used as a synonym for power-hungry. It refers to leaders who exercise strict control over their citizens and suppress any dissenting voices or opposition.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “power-hungry”


There are several synonyms for the term “power-hungry”. One common synonym is “ambitious”, which means having a strong desire to succeed or achieve something. Another synonym is “domineering”, which refers to someone who tries to control others in an aggressive or forceful way. Other synonyms include “authoritarian”, “oppressive”, and “tyrannical”.


Antonyms for power-hungry include words like “modest” and “humble”. These terms refer to people who do not seek power or attention but instead focus on being content with what they have. Another antonym is “selfless”, which describes someone who puts others’ needs before their own.

Cultural Insights

The idea of being power-hungry has been present in many cultures throughout history. In some societies, seeking power was seen as a noble pursuit while in others it was viewed as a negative trait associated with greed and corruption. The concept of power dynamics between individuals and groups has also been explored extensively in literature, art, and media across various cultures.

Understanding the nuances of language can help us better communicate our thoughts and ideas effectively. By exploring synonyms, antonyms, and cultural insights related to idioms like ‘power-hungry’, we can gain a deeper understanding of how language shapes our perceptions of ourselves and those around us.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “power-hungry”

Exercises to Improve Vocabulary

If you want to improve your vocabulary and understanding of the idiom “power-hungry”, there are several exercises you can do. One exercise is to create flashcards with synonyms and antonyms of the phrase. Another exercise is to read articles or books that use the idiom in context, and try to infer its meaning from the surrounding words.

Role-Playing Scenarios

To better understand how power-hungry behavior manifests in real life, you can engage in role-playing scenarios with friends or colleagues. For example, one person can play a boss who constantly seeks more control over their employees, while another person plays an employee who resists this behavior. By acting out these scenarios, you can gain a deeper understanding of how power dynamics work.

Note: It’s important to establish clear boundaries and guidelines when engaging in role-playing scenarios, so that everyone feels safe and respected.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “power-hungry”

When using idioms in everyday language, it’s important to understand their meanings and usage. The idiom “power-hungry” is no exception. However, there are common mistakes that people make when using this idiom that can lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

One mistake is assuming that “power-hungry” only applies to individuals who seek political power. While politicians may be commonly associated with this term, it can also refer to anyone who seeks control or dominance over others in any context.

Another mistake is using “power-hungry” as a synonym for ambitious or driven. While ambition and drive can certainly be positive qualities, being power-hungry implies a negative desire for control at all costs.

It’s also important not to use “power-hungry” too casually or flippantly. This term carries a strong connotation of greed and selfishness, so it should be used carefully and thoughtfully.

Finally, avoid using “power-hungry” in situations where it doesn’t apply or isn’t relevant. Overusing idioms can dilute their impact and make them less effective in communication.

By avoiding these common mistakes when using the idiom “power-hungry,” you can ensure clear communication and understanding in your conversations.

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