ty·coon (tī-ko͞on’)
n. 1) A wealthy and powerful businessperson or industrialist; a magnate. 2) Used formerly as a title for a Japanese shogun.
[Japanese taikun, title of a shogun, Middle Chinese tx̩aj` kyn, great prince : tx̩aj` kyn, great (also the source of Mandarin ) + kyn, prince (also the source of Mandarin jūn).]
Word History: In 1853, Commodore Matthew C. Perry sailed into a harbor near Tokyo and presented a letter from the American president Millard Fillmore demanding that Japan open itself to trade with the United States. At the time, the Japanese restricted foreign trade severely. Among Western nations, for example, only the Dutch were allowed to trade in Japan, and then only on a small island in the harbor of Nagasaki. This policy had been put in place in the 1630s by the shogun (as the rulers of premodern Japan were called). In late medieval times, the Japanese emperor had been reduced to a figurehead, and all real power belonged to the shogun, who ruled on the emperor's behalf. On the date of Perry's visit, the Tokugawa family had held the shogunate for 250 years, as a kind of hereditary monarchy. Although Perry believed that he was dealing with emissaries from the emperor, nominally the ruler of the land, in fact he met the representatives of the shogun. The emissaries spoke of the shogun as the taikun, using a title of Chinese origin that literally means "great prince." This title was used by Japanese officials in foreign relations because tennō, "emporer," was obviously unavailable—the shogun ruled the Empire of Japan in the emperor's name. The title shōgun itself was probably not considered grand enough, as it literally means just "general of the army." Accounts of Perry's visit made the shogun's title taikun well-known back in the United States as tycoon, and Abraham Lincoln's cabinet members took up tycoon as an affectionate nickname for the president. The word soon came to be used for business and industry leaders in general—at times being applied to figures like J.P. Morgan, who may indeed have wielded more power than many princes and presidents.

Word Histories. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • tycoon — ty‧coon [taɪˈkuːn] noun [countable] someone who is successful in business and industry and has a lot of money and power: • a high powered business tycoon * * * tycoon UK US /taɪˈkuːn/ noun [C] ► a very successful business person who is rich and… …   Financial and business terms

  • Tycoon — Tycoon,der:⇨Großunternehmer Tycoon 1.(mächtiger)Geschäftsmann,Wirtschaftsmagnat,Wirtschaftsführer,Großkapitalist,Industrieriese,Multimillionär 2.(eigenmächtiger)Parteiführer/Parteifunktionär …   Das Wörterbuch der Synonyme

  • Tycoon — Ty*coon (t[ i] k[=oo]n ), n. [Chinese tai kun great prince.] The title by which the shogun, or former commander in chief of the Japanese army, was known to foreigners. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tycoon — 1857, title given by foreigners to the shogun of Japan (said to have been used by his supporters when addressing foreigners, as an attempt to convey that the shogun was more important than the emperor), from Japanese taikun great lord or prince,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • tycoon — /ingl. taɪˈkuːn/ s. m. e f. inv. (dell industria e del commercio) magnate, big …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • tycoon — [n] person who has a lot of money, power administrator, big shot*, boss, business person, capitalist, captain of industry*, director, entrepreneur, executive, fat cat*, financier, industrialist, investor, magnate, mogul, wealthy person; concept… …   New thesaurus

  • tycoon — ► NOUN ▪ a wealthy, powerful person in business or industry. ORIGIN originally a title applied by foreigners to the shogun of Japan: from Japanese, great lord …   English terms dictionary

  • tycoon — ☆ tycoon [tī ko͞on′ ] n. [SinoJpn taikun, term of respect for an emperor < tai, great (< Cantonese) + kun, monarch (< Cantonese kuan, official)] 1. a title applied by foreigners to the former shogun of Japan 2. a wealthy and powerful… …   English World dictionary

  • Tycoon — Se utiliza el término tycoon para designar un videojuego en el que se debe dirigir algún tipo de empresa u organización, y el objetivo es convertirte en el magnate del negocio. Como en todo videojuego la dificultad es variable, en este tipo de… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Tycoon — Als Tycoon (auch Taikun) werden Großindustrielle, Magnaten oder Mogule bezeichnet. Ein Tycoon beherrscht und kontrolliert große Teile spezieller Industriezweige, woher auch meist sein Vermögen stammt. Ein typisches Beispiel für einen Tycoon aus… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Tycoon — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Tycoon est un mot anglais dérivé du mot japonais taikun (大君)[note 1] signifiant « grand homme » ou « prince », le terme est lui même d …   Wikipédia en Français

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