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 populist (audio) \ noun
populistic \ ˌpä-​pyə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce populist (audio) \ adjective

Examples of populist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Some Democrats liken Ryan to Sen. Sherrod Brown, an outspoken economic populist who won a commanding reelection victory in 2018. Julie Carr Smyth, Star Tribune, "In Ohio, open Senate seat sparks debate on gender, diversity," 2 Feb. 2021 The hotly contested and violent race pitched Mr. Museveni, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, against Mr. Wine, a youthful populist whose message of change galvanized Uganda’s youth. Nicholas Bariyo, WSJ, "Ugandan President Claims Sixth Election Victory as Opposition Alleged Rigging," 16 Jan. 2021 For now, says Jodhka, the political opposition is weak, and Modi, who twice was elected as a populist 'Man of the People,' remains enormously popular with a 76% approval rating. Naomi Xu Elegant, Fortune, "How two of India’s richest men became the target of farmer boycotts," 23 Jan. 2021 French far-right populist Marine le Pen flew in for one of his campaign events in Lisbon. Barry Hatton, Star Tribune, "In Portugal presidential race, how high can a populist fly?," 22 Jan. 2021 The fourth of the 12 Caesars, Caligula — officially, Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus — was a capricious, combustible first-century populist remembered, perhaps unfairly, as the empire’s most tyrannical ruler. New York Times, "Caligula’s Garden of Delights, Unearthed and Restored," 12 Jan. 2021 Their outgoing president, Alberto Fujimori had been democratically elected as a populist, only to preside over a regime of corruption, repression, and personal megalomania. Jonathan M. Katz, The New Republic, "Accountability Is the Cure for an Ailing Democracy," 20 Jan. 2021 As rates of deforestation have risen under President Jair Bolsonaro, the right-wing populist has turned away from the environmental agencies that helped bring those rates to historic lows a decade ago. Washington Post, "Bolsonaro sent soldiers to the Amazon to curb deforestation. Here’s how the effort failed.," 4 Jan. 2021 One of the candidates was a mesmerizing and polarizing populist who rose to political fame just four years ago; the other was a familiar actor on the national stage for nearly five decades – three decades longer than our students have been alive. Mary Kate Cary, The Conversation, "America’s newest voters look back at the 2020 election – and forward to politics in 2021," 29 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The other camp of Biden advisers, though, seems to be more sanguine about the benefits of globalization and more skeptical about indulging populist economic ideas. New York Times, "The Biden Team Wants to Transform the Economy. Really.," 11 Feb. 2021 Critical journalists, populist politicians, and even TV shows such as South Park regularly criticize the company, which is currently catching a huge amount of national flak for fighting a unionizing campaign in Alabama. Nicholas Clairmont, Washington Examiner, "Artful dodger," 11 Feb. 2021 And Smith says that the populist messaging approach West Virginia Can’t Wait has adopted might inspire the state’s voters to hold Manchin accountable. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "Inside the West Virginian Movement to Push Joe Manchin to the Left," 5 Feb. 2021 The populist strain recalls the anger fueling the Occupy Wall Street movement over the big bank bailouts that Congress brought in response to the financial crisis. Marcy Gordon, Star Tribune, "GameStop saga makes Wall Street an issue for Biden team," 1 Feb. 2021 Evans tried to explain the populist investor wave ridden by GameStop, which saw its stock price soar after fans on Reddit embraced it to defy institutional investors. NBC News, "'Saturday Night Live' wonders if anything still works in America," 31 Jan. 2021 The populist story line is that nonstop chatter on social media about once downtrodden stocks, such as GameStop, put power back into the pocketbooks of the people. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "GameStop gamers battle risk in fight against Wall Street," 29 Jan. 2021 The influx fueled a tide of nativism and anti-immigrant sentiment that brought populist leaders to power in Europe and the United States as fears of terrorism eclipsed concerns for human rights as a Western priority. Liz Sly, BostonGlobe.com, "Anger over economic, political setbacks roils Middle East 10 years after Arab Spring," 25 Jan. 2021 New York once had two competing political parties, which provided checks on extreme populist ideas. Mark E. Kingdon, WSJ, "New York, I Love You, but We Can’t Go On Like This," 15 Jan. 2021

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

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Populist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/populist. Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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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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