Meaning of robber baron

rob'ber bar"on

Pronunciation: [key]
  1. 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.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.