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

If confirmed, Sarec's moderate government bucks the trend in Central Europe where populists have swept to power in elections from Italy to Poland. Jovana Gec, Fox News, "Slovenia lawmakers to approve moderate government," 13 Sep. 2018 Still, populists like Mr. Kurz, echoing counterparts in neighboring countries, warn that even if the numbers are down now, a new surge could come any time, and so the borders must be reinforced immediately. Steven Erlanger, New York Times, "For Europe, Cutting the Flow of Migrants Challenges Basic Ideals," 5 July 2018 Italy in recent years has become the main entry point for migrants from North Africa crossing into Europe, a situation Italy's populists have vowed to change. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "Italy's new government shuts ports to migrants stranded at sea," 11 June 2018 But the party is still looking on with envy as populists gain power in eastern Europe, something Akesson said is bound to be replicated across the continent. Amanda Billner, Bloomberg.com, "Populist Power-Broker in Sweden Has No Use for Bannon or Russia," 15 Apr. 2018 But the Mexican left-populist isn’t about to waste his political capital on a fight with the U.S. when there’s so much to do at home. Jonah Shepp, Daily Intelligencer, "AMLO Isn’t Mexico’s Trump – Nor Is He Trump’s Natural Enemy," 5 July 2018 When the League refused to budge on having Paolo Savona as economy minister, Mattarella stuck to his constitutional prerogative to veto Cabinet ministers, and the populists were foiled in their quest to govern Italy. NBC News, "Italy's political pandemonium is remarkable even by Italian standards," 29 May 2018 That loss energized progressives, who worked to pass a constitutional amendment to allow an income tax, building a coalition with agrarian populists and with temperance advocates who wanted to reduce federal reliance on alcohol taxes. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "Democrats Take Aim at the Reagan Tax Revolution," 15 Feb. 2019 Malcolm Turnbull’s stance in rejecting calls by populists to cut Australia’s large immigration intake -- fueling one of the fastest-growing populations in the developed world -- has been given a timely boost by the prime minister’s own Treasury. Jason Scott, Bloomberg.com, "Sorry Populists, Australia Says Mass Immigration Is a Good Thing," 16 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Anxieties about immigration were being remorselessly stoked by populist newspapers. Jonathan Coe, Time, "How Brexit Broke Britain and Revealed a Country at War With Itself," 6 June 2019 United Kingdom The anti-European, xenophobic and populist UK Independence Party led the country to its current Brexit chaos. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "75 years after D-Day, these countries are facing a nationalist resurgence," 6 June 2019 Vilsack said, according to two people present: Joe Maxwell, executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets, a populist advocacy group for farmers; and Chris Petersen, a hog farmer from Clear Lake, Iowa. Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica, "Chicken Farmers Thought Trump Was Going to Help Them. Then His Administration Did the Opposite.," 5 June 2019 The Election Commission was appointed by the ruling junta's allies, while the Constitutional Court has a long history of ruling in favor of the country's conservative establishment, which despises Thaksin, a billionaire populist politician. Kaweewit Kaewjinda, Fox News, "Thailand's Democrats to vote to join coup leader's coalition," 5 June 2019 The couple are the most visible in the city’s cadre of conservative Republicans who, faced with a populist Trump juggernaut, chose to scramble aboard. Bryan Lowry, kansascity, "Phone poll pits lobbyist with Trump ties against Kansas congressman for Senate race," 4 June 2019 The concert recording became the best-selling classical album of all time and launched a new populist era in marketing classical recordings. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Pavarotti’s Joy of Living," 4 June 2019 Stocks in Europe gained after voters in European Union parliamentary elections showed broad but more fragmented support for pro-EU parties, while populist factions gained less ground than expected. Max Bernhard, WSJ, "Stocks Rise in Wake of European Elections," 27 May 2019 Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, a hard-line populist, proposed the decree before the European Parliament elections this week, where nationalist, anti-migrant parties are hoping to make strong gains. Nicole Winfield, The Seattle Times, "UN tells Italy proposed decree violates migrants’ rights," 19 May 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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Last Updated

30 May 2019

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The first known use of populist was in 1891

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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

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