robber barons


robber barons

noun

  1. History/Historical. a noble who robbed travelers passing through his lands.
  2. a ruthlessly powerful U.S. capitalist or industrialist of the late 19th century considered to have become wealthy by exploiting natural resources, corrupting legislators, or other unethical means.

A term applied to certain leading American businessmen of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including Cornelius Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller. The term suggests that they acquired their wealth by means more often foul than fair.

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