pop·​u·​list | \ ˈpä-pyə-list How to pronounce populist (audio) \

Definition of populist

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a member of a political party claiming to represent the common people especially, often capitalized : a member of a U.S. political party formed in 1891 primarily to represent agrarian interests and to advocate the free coinage of silver and government control of monopolies
2 : a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people



Definition of populist (Entry 2 of 2)

1 often capitalized : of, relating to, or characterized by populism

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Other Words from populist


populism \ ˈpä-​pyə-​ˌli-​zəm How to pronounce populism (audio) \ noun
populistic \ ˌpä-​pyə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce populistic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of populist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Among Europe’s far-right populists, the fight against a de facto European Union ban on old lightbulbs has lasted years. Washington Post, "Trump’s frustration with ‘orange’ lightbulbs echoes a common theme among the European far right," 16 Jan. 2020 The right’s populists might wise up to this eventually. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "Bernie Sanders Has Finally Got Republicans’ Attention," 15 Jan. 2020 The year began with the inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right populist, as Brazil’s president. The Economist, "2019 in review: protest and populism in Latin America," 25 Dec. 2019 In November, a New York Times investigation revealed that the subsidies underwrite oligarchs, mobsters and far-right populists. New York Times, "Who Keeps Europe’s Farm Billions Flowing? Often, Those Who Benefit," 11 Dec. 2019 With their number of lawmakers rising in the European Parliament, the Greens will have roughly the same influence in the 751-seat assembly as the far-right populists led by Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini. Katrin Bennhold, BostonGlobe.com, "Greens are the new hope for Europe’s center. For the far right, they’re enemy number one.," 14 July 2019 Her election to the largely ceremonial post defied a wave of gains for far right populists across Europe. Fox News, "Zuzana Caputova inaugurated as 1st Slovak female president," 15 June 2019 The Danish People’s Party’s performance was a contrast to some other European countries, where far-right populists have been on the rise. Time, "Denmark's Social Democrats on Track to Return to Power as PM Concedes," 7 June 2019 Mexicans reacted to corruption and slow growth in 2018 by electing to the presidency a left-wing populist, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The Economist, "2019 in review: protest and populism in Latin America," 25 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Hasson became intoxicated by a populist regime and chose to be swept up by its violence, its false promises, its hatred. Sarah Abrevaya Stein, The Conversation, "Vital Hasson, the Jew who worked for the Nazis, hunted down refugees and tore apart families in WWII Greece," 21 Jan. 2020 The Kenyatta government now faces the dilemma of whether to carry out its threat to treat the ceremony as treason and arrest Odinga — at the risk of turning him into a populist martyr — or to downplay the event. Dallas News, "Trump ally, Dallas businessman Tommy Hicks Jr. explores buying conservative TV channel to compete with Fox News," 13 Jan. 2020 Infighting has been reported in the main party, the populist 5-Star Movement, and among leaders of the Democratic Party, the other key coalition member. Washington Post, "Italy’s premier: Squabbling coalition will last 3 more years," 28 Dec. 2019 Frank Graves, founder of political research firm Ekos, attributed part of the dip in Trudeau’s popularity to the rise of a populist movement similar to those that led to Brexit and the election of Trump in the United States. Adam Kovac, USA TODAY, "Justin Trudeau locked in tight race with Conservative Party rival as Canadians vote Monday," 21 Oct. 2019 Such globalist ambitions will grow increasingly difficult for all corporations plying their trade in an increasingly populist, fascist and nationalist world. Al Saracevic, SFChronicle.com, "LeBron James’ comments on China an embarrassment to himself and NBA," 15 Oct. 2019 But there is a specific precedent both to the way the circulation of false information is helping the rise of right-wing populist movements, and to Trump’s accusations against the free press: The rise of fascism. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "Fake news has been enabling fascism for a whole century," 15 Aug. 2019 Anger over diversifying populations and influxes of people from other countries is fueling populist movements around the world. Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor, "Northern composure: Can Canada stave off the West’s populist anger?," 5 Apr. 2019 Income and wealth inequality have become potent political issues, firing up the liberal base of the Democratic Party that’s responded with populist and socialist proposals that would more directly involve the government in the economy. Stephen Singer, courant.com, "At Greenwich forum, hedge fund founders Ray Dalio and Paul Tudor Jones call for reform of capitalism," 5 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'populist.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of populist


1891, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1892, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for populist


Latin populus the people

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Time Traveler for populist

Time Traveler

The first known use of populist was in 1891

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Statistics for populist

Last Updated

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Populist.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Populists. Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for populist



English Language Learners Definition of populist

: of or relating to a political party that claims to represent ordinary people

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More from Merriam-Webster on populist

Spanish Central: Translation of populist

Nglish: Translation of populist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of populist for Arabic Speakers

Comments on populist

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to express in a more acceptable way

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