robber baron

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robber baron

1. A disparaging term applied to any of the prominent businessmen in the late 19th-century US who used unethical means to increase industrialization (and thus their own wealth and prestige). John Rockefeller is usually regarded as a robber baron, but he's certainly not the only one.
2. By extension, anyone who achieves great wealth and success by unscrupulous means. Of course I don't trust him—he's a robber baron who's made all his money by manipulating the stock market!
3. In the Middle Ages, a thief who robbed unsuspecting travelers. Please be mindful of robber barons on your journey through the countryside.
See also: robber
References in classic literature ?
'"I said to the Lady of Grogzwig," repeated the baron, looking round the board.
'"The fair daughter of the Baron Von Swillenhausen," said Koeldwethout, condescending to explain.
Once more the Baron looked slightly offended, but the Vice-Warden hastily explained that the song had no allusion to him, and in fact had no meaning at all.
Just as the arrow left the bow, the Vice-Warden trod heavily on the toe of the Baron, who yelled with the pain.
At this the Baron and the Baroness faced sharply about, and almost fled in their alarm.
Why, the German was the Baron Burmergelm--a most important personage!
"And I of speaking to Baron Danglars, chevalier of the Legion of Honor, and member of the Chamber of Deputies?"
Monte Cristo repeated all the titles he had read on the baron's card.
And front and rear, and either flank, there ride the yeomen of the Barons, and in the midst King John.
He rides to where the barges lie in readiness, and the great Barons step forth from their ranks to meet him.
You should ask a few of our friends to that war game, Baron. How they would smile!
"Not once did he raise his visor while he was among us," replied the Baron, "but there are those who claim they had a brief glimpse of him and that he is of horrid countenance, wearing a great yellow beard and having one eye gone, and a mighty red scar from his forehead to his chin."
The cloud suddenly cleared away; the Baron smiled with charming courtesy, lifted his hat to his sister's friend, and walked off.
Unwilling to be found engaged in his hellish occupation, the savage Baron gave the slaves a signal to restore Isaac's garment, and, quitting the dungeon with his attendants, he left the Jew to thank God for his own deliverance, or to lament over his daughter's captivity, and probable fate, as his personal or parental feelings might prove strongest.
"Is he not your friend?" replied the baron, negligently.