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 But Italy’s left-populist government decided to limit it to Italian residents with household incomes of under €40,000 a year. The Economist, "The not-so-dolce vita Italy struggles to reopen for tourism," 11 June 2020 Will is more of an insufferable populist, prepared to cut certain corners to get his beers distribution and turn his hall into a boozy playground for the Valley's thirsty and vacuous. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Brews Brothers': TV Review," 9 Apr. 2020 This coalition of farmers, workers, populists, progressives, and other reformers believed that bankers already possessed undue economic and political influence, and opposed granting them any additional power. Christopher W. Shaw, Harper's Magazine, "The Money Question," 30 Mar. 2020 Across Europe, far-right parties have gained traction; in Hungary and Poland, nationalist populists are in power. New York Times, "A German Video Game, Using Swastikas to Remember Nazi Terror," 20 Mar. 2020 Whether Donald Trump, Marine le Pen or Geert Wilders — all these right-wing populists are not only a threat to peace and social cohesion, but also to economic development. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, "83 not-very-flattering things foreign officials have said about Trump," 7 Dec. 2019 The economists are right, and the populists are wrong. The Washington Post, Twin Cities, "Other voices: The return of rent control is not a good thing," 26 Sep. 2019 At the same time, market concern about the policies of Lopez Obrador himself, who campaigned as a left-leaning populist, have led to a drought in investment. Justin Villamil, Bloomberg.com, "Mexican Peso Free Fall Shows Oil Isn’t the Only Problem," 18 May 2020 Leaning on the story, Saltz usually positions himself as a populist. Kyle Chayka, The New Republic, "When Art Becomes Self-Help," 24 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Jason McDaniel, an associate professor of political science at San Francisco State University, said the political climate favors populist taxes that squeeze more money from big business. J.k. Dineen, SFChronicle.com, "SF is piling tax hikes on the ballot. Will voters embrace them in a recession?," 29 June 2020 The results, if confirmed, pave the way for what is building into a very tight race in July 12 runoff that will most likely pit the populist incumbent against the centrist Warsaw mayor, Rafal Trzaskowski, who was in second place. Vanessa Gera, Fox News, "Poland's presidential vote headed for runoff, exit poll shows," 29 June 2020 Duda, candidate of the governing populist party, Law and Justice, is set to win 41.8 percent of the vote, according to the exit polls, while Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski is expected to win 30.4 percent. Loveday Morris, BostonGlobe.com, "Polish presidential election heads to runoff, exit polls show," 28 June 2020 That, analysts said, could trigger populist anger at Arab leaders’ growing rapprochement with Israel. Steve Hendrix, Washington Post, "Arab governments denounce Israel’s plans to annex the West Bank, warning it will imperil regional security and peace building. But will Israel listen?," 27 June 2020 Mr Conte was an unknown law professor when, in 2018, he was tapped by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) to lead its populist coalition with the hard-right Northern League. The Economist, "No longer a figurehead Why Italy’s technocratic prime minister is so popular," 27 June 2020 Among the allies urging the Trump campaign to change tack or risk defeat is someone who knows a thing or two about winning populist elections. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Steve Bannon sounds alarm over faltering Trump campaign," 26 June 2020 For 36 hours afterward, India's populist prime minister Narendra Modi made no public protest. Stephen Collinson With Caitlin Hu And Vedika Sud, CNN, "Presidential debates and Modi's China challenge," 23 June 2020 In May, Sampa embarked on a populist spree targetting Chinese businesses in Lusaka for alleged racial discrimination against Zambians. Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu, Quartz Africa, "Zambia has become the poster child for the good, bad, and ugly of the China-Africa story," 17 June 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.

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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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Time Traveler for populist

Time Traveler

The first known use of populist was in 1891

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Statistics for populist

Last Updated

20 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Populist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/populist. Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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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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