1

demagogue

play
noun dem·a·gogue \ˈde-mə-ˌgäg\
variants: or less commonly

demagog

Definition of demagogue

  1. 1 :  a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power

  2. 2 :  a leader championing the cause of the common people in ancient times

demagoguery

play \-ˌgä-g(ə-)rē\ noun

demagogy

play \-ˌgä-gē, -ˌgä-jē, -ˌgō-jē\ noun

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Examples of demagogue in a Sentence

  1. Like other good Whigs, they had assumed that the people, once free of English influence, would honor and elevate the country's true patriots and natural aristocracy in ways that the English Crown had not. But when in the decades following the Revolution the people seemed to succumb to the deceit and flattery of mushroom demagogues, who were the popular counterparts of courtiers, the Federalists became bewildered and bitter. —Gordon S. Wood, Revolutionary Characters, 2006

  2. Before the U.S. could begin to help Haiti rebuild its ravaged democracy last week, it first had to remove a raving demagogue. —Tim Padgett et al., Time, 15 Mar. 2004

  3. Here's the background: Tennessee's finances are a mess. The state is facing a shortfall of some $310 million—but legislators remember what happened last year when they considered imposing the first income tax on wages. Goaded by talk-radio demagogues, hundreds of citizens surrounded the Statehouse in a near riot. —Editor & Publisher, 4 Feb. 2002

  4. His opponent called him a bigoted demagogue.

  5. that politician is just a demagogue who preys upon people's fears and prejudices

Recent Examples of demagogue from the Web

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

Did You Know?

When the ancient Greeks used dēmagōgos (from dēmos, meaning "people," and agein, "to lead") they meant someone good-a leader who used outstanding oratorical skills to further the interests of the common people. Mid-17th-century writers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Dryden-and, later, Jonathan Swift-employed the English word that way. But, at the same time, the word took a negative turn, coming to suggest one who uses powers of persuasion to sway and mislead. "A plausible, insignificant word, in the mouth of an expert demagogue, is a dangerous and a dreadful weapon," declared Robert South, known for his sermons, in 1716.

Origin and Etymology of demagogue

Greek dēmagōgos, from dēmos people (perhaps akin to Greek daiesthai to divide) + agōgos leading, from agein to lead — more at tide, agent


2

demagogue

play
verb dem·a·gogue \ˈde-mə-ˌgäg\
variants: or less commonly

demagog

Definition of demagogue

demagogued

also

demagoged

;

demagoguing

also

demagoging

  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  to behave like a demagogue

  3. transitive verb
  4. :  to treat (something, such as an issue) in the manner of a demagogue

Examples of demagogue in a Sentence

  1. But Clinton's boldness seemed to work, at least within the Beltway. House Republicans mostly stifled the urge to demagogue against his plan. —Tom Morganthau et al., Newsweek, 11 Dec. 1995

Origin and Etymology of demagogue

see 1demagogue


DEMAGOGUE Defined for English Language Learners

demagogue

play
noun

Definition of demagogue for English Language Learners

  • : a political leader who tries to get support by making false claims and promises and using arguments based on emotion rather than reason



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