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.
Could your Highness tell me," the Baron cautiously began, "how much seven times nine would come to?
The Baron said nothing: he was covered with dust, and seemed much hurt, both in body and mind.
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?
So much so," replied Monte Cristo, "that while you call yourself baron you are not willing to call anybody else count.
And the Barons follow in, with each mailed hand upon the sword-hilt, and the word is given to let go.
You should ask a few of our friends to that war game, Baron.
Here under this roof," the Baron continued, "is sanctuary, but in the streets and squares beyond, it seems to me--and I have thought this over many times,--it seems to me that even the person of the great Prince, cousin of the Emperor, holy son of Japan, would not be safe.
An' speaking of the Devil," said the Baron, "how think you he will side should the King eventually force war upon the barons?
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.
And the baron pointed, with a slow and accusing gesture, to the left shoulder of Milady, which he almost touched with his finger.