Titular ruler

Last updated

A titular ruler, or titular head, is a person in an official position of leadership who possesses few, if any, actual powers. [1] Sometimes a person may inhabit a position of titular leadership and yet exercise more power than would normally be expected, as a result of their charisma or experience. A titular ruler is not confined to political leadership but can also refer to any organisation, such as a corporation.



Titular is formed from a combination of the Latin titulus (title) and the English suffix -ar, [2] which means "of or belonging to." [3]


In most parliamentary democracies today, the head of state has either evolved into, or was created as, a position of titular leadership. In the former case, the leader may often have significant powers listed within the state's constitution but is no longer able to exercise them because of historical changes within that country. In the latter case, it is often made clear within the document that the leader is intended to be powerless. Heads of state who inhabit positions of titular leadership are usually regarded as symbols of the people they "lead."


Not to be confused with "eponym"

A common confusion is with the word and concept eponym. This means that an institution, object, location, artefact, etc., takes its name or title from the particular person. For example, Simon Bolivar is not the titular ruler of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela but its eponym.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Constitutional monarchy</span> Type of monarchy in which power is restricted by a constitution

A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises their authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in decision making. Constitutional monarchies differ from absolute monarchies in that they are bound to exercise powers and authorities within limits prescribed by an established legal framework.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dictator</span> Political leader who possesses absolute power

A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power. A dictatorship is a state ruled by one dictator or by a small clique. The word originated as the title of a Roman dictator elected by the Roman Senate to rule the republic in times of emergency.

A head of state is the public persona who officially embodies a state in its unity and legitimacy. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government and more.

A monarch is a head of state for life or until abdication, and therefore the head of state of a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority and power in the state, or others may wield that power on behalf of the monarch. Usually a monarch either personally inherits the lawful right to exercise the state's sovereign rights or is selected by an established process from a family or cohort eligible to provide the nation's monarch. Alternatively, an individual may proclaim themself monarch, which may be backed and legitimated through acclamation, right of conquest or a combination of means.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monarchy</span> Form of government

A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from restricted and largely symbolic, to fully autocratic, and can expand across the domains of the executive, legislative, and judicial.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">President (government title)</span> Title of the head of state in various governments

President is a common title for the head of state in most republics. The president of a nation is, generally speaking, the head of the government and the fundamental leader of the country or the ceremonial head of state.

The head of government is either the highest or the second-highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presides over a cabinet, a group of ministers or secretaries who lead executive departments. In diplomacy, "head of government" is differentiated from "head of state" although in many countries, for example the United States, they are the same person.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eponym</span> Person or thing after which something is named

An eponym is a person, a place, or a thing after whom or which someone or something is, or is believed to be, named. The adjectives which are derived from the word eponym include eponymous and eponymic.

A governor is an administrative leader and head of a polity or political region, ranking under the head of state and in some cases, such as governors-general, as the head of state's official representative. Depending on the type of political region or polity, a governor may be either appointed or elected, and the governor's powers can vary significantly, depending on the public laws in place locally. The adjective pertaining to a governor is gubernatorial, from the Latin root gubernare.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">President of the Republic of China</span> Head of state of the Republic of Taiwan

The president of the Republic of China, commonly referred to as the president of Taiwan, is the head of state of the Republic of China (ROC) and the commander-in-chief of the Republic of China Armed Forces.

A Council of State is a governmental body in a country, or a subdivision of a country, with a function that varies by jurisdiction. It may be the formal name for the cabinet or it may refer to a non-executive advisory body associated with a head of state. In some countries it functions as a supreme administrative court and is sometimes regarded as the equivalent of a privy council.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paramount leader</span> Informal term for the top leader in China

The paramount leader, also named supreme leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Government and People's Liberation Army (PLA) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) is an informal term for the most prominent political leader in China. The officeholders are usually General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission. The paramount leader is not, however, a formal position nor an office unto itself. The term gained prominence during the era of Deng Xiaoping (1978–1989), when he was able to wield political power without holding any official or formally significant party or government positions at any given time. As the leader of the world's largest economy by GDP purchasing power parity (PPP), the second largest economy by GDP nominal, and a potential superpower, the paramount leader is considered to be one of the world's most powerful political figures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">President of South Africa</span> South Africas head of state and head of government

The president of South Africa is the head of state and head of government of the Republic of South Africa. The president heads the executive branch of the Government of South Africa and is the commander-in-chief of the South African National Defence Force. Between 1961 and 1994, the office of head of state was the state presidency.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">President of Ethiopia</span> Head of state of Ethiopia

The President of Ethiopia is the head of state of Ethiopia. The position is largely ceremonial with executive power vested in the Council of Ministers chaired by The Prime Minister. The current president is Sahle-Work Zewde, who took office on 25 October 2018. Presidents are elected by The Federal Parliamentary Assembly for six years, with a two term limit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prime Minister of Guyana</span>

The prime minister of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana is an elected member of the National Assembly of Guyana who is the principal assistant and advisor to the president as well as the leader of government business in the Assembly, but is not the head of government in Guyana. The prime minister assumes the office of president if the presidency becomes vacant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">President of East Germany</span> Head of state of the German Democratic Republic

The president of the German Democratic Republic was the head of state of the German Democratic Republic, commonly known as East Germany, from 1949 until 1960. The office was created by the Constitution of 1949. The president of the Republic was elected by the People's Chamber (Volkskammer) and the Chamber of States (Landerkammer), the two chambers of parliament. The office was mostly ceremonial in nature. If necessary, the President of the Volkskammer acted as the president of the Republic.

A chancellor is a leader of a college or university, usually either the executive or ceremonial head of the university or of a university campus within a university system.


  1. ""titular" Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary". Merriam Webster. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  2. Robert K. Barnhart, ed. (1988). Chambers Dictionary of Etymology. New York: Chambers Harrap Publishers. p. 1146. ISBN   0-550-14230-4.
  3. ""-ar" Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary". Merriam Webster. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  4. "Michinomiya Hirohito". eHistory. The Ohio State University, Department of History. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  5. Buckley, Chris; Wu, Adam (10 March 2018). "Ending Term Limits for China's Xi Is a Big Deal. Here's Why". New York Times . Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2019. In China, the political job that matters most is the general secretary of the Communist Party. The party controls the military and domestic security forces, and sets the policies that the government carries out. China’s presidency lacks the authority of the American and French presidencies.