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

Keep scrolling for more

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 The right-wing populist Alberto Fujimori was later pardoned and released from prison midway through a 25-year sentence, only to have his pardon annulled and to return to prison less than two years later. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, "Peru had three presidents in one week. Now it has four months to fix the system.," 20 Nov. 2020 Bolsonaro, a far-right populist, has done stunningly little to curb an outbreak that has sickened more than 6.5 million people in Brazil, killed more than 175,000 and swelled into the worst humanitarian disaster in national history. Washington Post, "Should a coronavirus vaccine be mandatory? In Brazil’s most populous state, it will be.," 6 Dec. 2020 But the populist right is not the only important part of the U.S. political spectrum that is skeptical of trade. Charles Hankla, The Conversation, "Why Biden will find it hard to undo Trump’s costly ‘America first’ trade policy," 4 Dec. 2020 Good relations with Trump allowed Johnson to hold up the U.S. as the answer to this looming economic threat and helped to shape Johnson’s populist, Trump-lite pose. Jay Elwes, National Review, "From Trump to Biden: Boris Johnson’s New Look," 19 Nov. 2020 While frontrunner for the next Barcelona presidency, Victor Font, is by no means a populist, his desire to bring Guardiola back to the club is certainly in line with fans' yearning for a return to the recent past. Calum Trenaman, CNN, "Ten years on from humiliating Real Madrid 5-0, Barcelona is a club in turmoil," 28 Nov. 2020 And Diana, from whom nothing was expected but quiescence and children, became a model for seizing power as a populist. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "When Wives Ran the World," 20 Nov. 2020 Then came the election, in which an alarmingly large number of American workers voted, once again, for a race-baiting, plutocratic right-wing populist. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "Joe Biden Must Be a President for America’s Workers," 10 Nov. 2020 Although state violence is more difficult in a country with a free press, in the new media landscape populist leaders can bypass the press and communicate directly with their followers without scrutiny. Federico Finchelstein, The New Republic, "It’s Already Happening Here," 3 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Republican lawmakers traditionally balk at big spending, never fully embracing Trump's populist approach. Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, "House GOP rejects Trump $2,000 push," 25 Dec. 2020 Republican lawmakers traditionally balk at big spending and many never fully embraced Trump’s populist approach. Time, "House GOP Blocks Democrats' Bid for $2,000 Stimulus Checks," 24 Dec. 2020 Republican lawmakers traditionally balk at big spending and many never fully embraced Trump’s populist approach. Lisa Mascaro And Andrew Taylor, chicagotribune.com, "Second stimulus check updates: House Republicans block Democrats’ bid to pass Trump’s demand for $2,000 payments to Americans," 24 Dec. 2020 And asking how the forms of populist politics that Trump has exploited and stoked will evolve after his Presidency is different from asking what will become of Trump himself. Steve Coll, The New Yorker, "Donald Trump, George Wallace, and the Influence of Losers," 4 Dec. 2020 But other attempts to set aside his aristocratic style and project a populist image backfired. New York Times, "Valéry Giscard d’Estaing," 2 Dec. 2020 Yet few expect Bolsonaro or other nationalists to abandon their populist politics. Washington Post, "The world’s populists are losing their White House ally, but global Trumpism is far from over," 8 Nov. 2020 In truth, the rally should have seemed anything but strange, given its association with right-wing populist politics. Catherine Mcnicol Stock, Star Tribune, "The future of the GOP? Look at the Sturgis motorcycle rally.," 3 Sep. 2020 Donald Trump’s re-nominating convention this week is united around his vision for the party, but a loss in November will expose deep rifts in the GOP, forcing a battle over whether his brand of divisive, populist politics will last. Jordan Fabian, Bloomberg.com, "Win or Lose, Trump Is Stamping His Imprint on GOP Over Reagan’s," 28 Aug. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about populist

Time Traveler for populist

Time Traveler

The first known use of populist was in 1891

See more words from the same year

Statistics for populist

Last Updated

29 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Populist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/populist. Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for populist



English Language Learners Definition of populist

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on populist

What made you want to look up populist? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!