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pop·​u·​list ˈpä-pyə-list How to pronounce populist (audio)
: 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
: a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people
populism noun
populistic adjective


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

Examples of populist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
And in 1992, conservative commentator Pat Buchanan challenged President George H.W. Bush with a proto-Trumpian populist, socially conservative and isolationist message. Geoffrey Skelley, ABC News, 31 Oct. 2023 Right-wing populist Javier Milei wins contest to be Argentina’s next president… Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter passes away at age 96…. Mark Murray, NBC News, 20 Nov. 2023 Fortune An ‘anarcho-capitalist’ wins Argentina’s election Right-wing populist Javier Milei will be Argentina’s next president, defeating his opponent by ten percentage points in a run-off election Sunday. Alan Murray, Fortune, 20 Nov. 2023 Anyway, here is an excerpt from my piece, citing a certain Alabama governor: Huey Long was maybe the outstanding populist and demagogue of the 20th century in America. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 23 Oct. 2023 This political shift in Poland is especially timely for the EU given a recent election victory for populists in Slovakia and strong poll numbers for populist parties in Germany, France, and Austria. Ian Bremmer, TIME, 19 Oct. 2023 But however inadvertently, Huntington furthered the cause of far-right populists everywhere by giving them a language and academic cover for their apocalyptic, xenophobic sentiments. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 19 Oct. 2023 Nationalists and populists have blackened the neocons’ name. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 28 Aug. 2023 Only six other Senate Republicans publicly support the bill, including fellow populist Josh Hawley of Missouri, as well as some more senior Republicans including former presidential candidates Marco Rubio of Florida and Mitt Romney of Utah. Steven T. Dennis, BostonGlobe.com, 14 July 2023
The Republican majorities in 2017 were dominated by members who had been elected by the Tea Party wave that was spurred by the Obamacare fight, but in the current Congress, populist members are much more comfortable with social spending. The Editors, National Review, 4 Dec. 2023 On the trail, Mr. Kennedy has delivered a populist message of anti-corporate rhetoric and debunked science while invoking a powerful lineage: his uncles, former President John F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy, and his father, Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Susanne Craig, New York Times, 16 Nov. 2023 Holdout Republicans are expected to face increasing pressure to back Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), a favorite of the party’s populist wing. WSJ, 18 Oct. 2023 Barbie — a populist choice that exceeded all expectations to become both a critical and box office success. Tyler Coates, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Nov. 2023 Taking a page from recent coups in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, Niger’s new military leaders have tarred the country’s democratic leaders as too closely linked with France and promoted a populist message calling for the departure of the French military and diplomats from the region. Rachel Chason, Washington Post, 21 Nov. 2023 Mark Kelly The populist revolution against self-perpetuating progressive elites is a global phenomenon. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 20 Nov. 2023 Aeschylus Nov 17 Edited The authors of this article pretend the populist group is the only portion of the GOP who is not fiscally conservative. Tim Chapman, National Review, 17 Nov. 2023 Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s dramatic shake-up of his cabinet on Monday was a bold gamble that tacking to the center will give him a lift in the polls that his lurch to the populist right this summer failed to accomplish. Stephen Castle, New York Times, 14 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'populist.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Latin populus the people

First Known Use


1891, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1892, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of populist was in 1891

Dictionary Entries Near populist

Cite this Entry

“Populist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/populist. Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

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