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

Markets had been in turmoil for two days, unsettled by a farcical back-and-forth between the populists and the country’s president, who had rejected the parties’ choice of a Eurosceptic economist as finance minister. The Economist, "Italy’s political crisis is roiling financial markets once more," 31 May 2018 At their most basic level, populists on both the right and the left pit the common people against the elite, the entrenched political class. Lori Hinnant, The Seattle Times, "Tech could unite Europe’s populists ahead of EU vote in May," 19 Feb. 2019 Abdul El-Sayed, an avowed populist who was vying to be Michigan's first Muslim governor, finished nearly 20 percentage points behind establishment Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in Tuesday's primary. Gregg Re, Fox News, "Socialist torchbearers flame out in key races, despite blitz by Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez," 8 Aug. 2018 López Obrador, a leftist populist often referred to by his initials — AMLO, is no fan of the energy reform measures put into place in 2013 and codified in 2014. Rob Nikolewski, sandiegouniontribune.com, "What happens to Mexico's energy reform — and Sempra — if the presidential front runner wins?," 31 May 2018 But the populists who did well in the election also say euro membership has subverted Italy’s sovereignty — an increasingly resonant theme in the country. New York Times, "Why Italy’s Political Turmoil Is Causing Financial Angst Elsewhere," 29 May 2018 Tester, a third-generation farmer and former president of the Montana Senate, has a reputation as a populist. Matthew Brown, The Seattle Times, "AP FACT CHECK: Tester did rank No. 1 in cash from lobbyists," 10 Sep. 2018 Trump was elected as a populist, channeling the frustration of many voters who felt overlooked by the powers in Washington. NBC News, "McConnell's legacy built on winning fights, not friends," 12 June 2018 Anne McGill Gorsuch, one of seven siblings, rose to power as a hell-raising populist in the Colorado legislature. Simon Van Zuylen-wood, Daily Intelligencer, "How Neil Gorsuch Became the Second-Most-Polarizing Man in Washington," 28 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

How sharp should come into focus Tuesday, when Chief Executive Timothy Sloan appears before a House Financial Services Committee newly dominated by Democrats with a decidedly populist tilt. Emily Glazer, WSJ, "Wells Fargo Regulators Weigh Executive Shakeup as CEO Heads to Washington," 11 Mar. 2019 Bannon been largely ignored by the populist far-left. Lori Hinnant, The Seattle Times, "Tech could unite Europe’s populists ahead of EU vote in May," 19 Feb. 2019 Khan, a cosmopolitan former cricket star who ran on a populist platform of combatting corruption, is the latest leader to give in. Fox News, "Pakistan's Ahmadis fearful as leaders bow to extremists," 28 Sep. 2018 The sharing of the Rousseau technology marks the most brazen attempt to date to internationalize Europe’s populist movements. Lori Hinnant, The Seattle Times, "Tech could unite Europe’s populists ahead of EU vote in May," 19 Feb. 2019 The 5-Star leader, Luigi Di Maio, already sparked annoyance earlier this month by saying his populist movement was ready to help France’s anti-government yellow vest protesters. Colleen Barry, The Seattle Times, "Italy’s Salvini lashes out at Macron as ‘terrible president’," 22 Jan. 2019 But this is precisely what the populist movements in Europe and the U.S. are dead set against, giving these people open borders so that the poor of the rest of the world can come here and compete for jobs. Robert Sullivan, Vogue, "What If There Were No Borders?," 30 Nov. 2018 Sean Rayford/Getty Images Of course, Bannon is working to usher in just such a future, so his assessment of the populist movement’s success is not exactly impartial. Alex Ward, Vox, "“A collapse of the center”: why fringe movements are winning around the world," 29 Oct. 2018 European Council President Donald Tusk warned member states that failure to implement an effective migration strategy will only strengthen the growing populist movements in Europe. Renae Reints, Fortune, "Angela Merkel Warns Migration Could 'Make or Break' the EU," 28 June 2018

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

21 Mar 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

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).


to boil down or concentrate

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