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 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 That likely affects Sanders more, since the Vermont senator, much like President Donald Trump, campaigns as a populist who addresses large rallies with thousands of supporters. Laurie Kellman, Fortune, "2020 primary takeaways: It’s Joe Biden’s nomination to lose," 11 Mar. 2020 His critics view him as a right-wing populist who has pushed Hungarian democracy to its limits. Rick Noack, Washington Post, "Why Hungary’s Orban would want Trump to sour on Ukraine," 22 Oct. 2019 There’s a lot of heady talk these days that the nationalists and populists have been proven right, now. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "We Need More Libertarianism Too," 7 Apr. 2020 And efforts to strengthen globalized public efforts are attacked by nationalists and populists as infringements on sovereignty. Steven Erlanger, New York Times, "Spread of Virus Could Hasten the Great Coming Apart of Globalization," 25 Feb. 2020 In India, as in Italy, nationalists and populists enjoy strong popularity. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "“It’s almost like a cry for help”: An Indian poet gets at the heart of protests around the world," 30 Dec. 2019 Strongmen in de facto single-party states have consolidated or expanded their rule, while nationalist populists and would-be autocrats in democracies are systematically undermining or corrupting their countries’ liberal institutions. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "In a world of crisis, Tunisia’s democracy marches on," 5 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Last year, Italy’s populist government passed into law the reddito di cittadinanza (or, citizen’s income) plan. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "From Pope Francis to the Bond King, universal basic income is gaining support around the world," 16 May 2020 Trump’s move to infuse his management of the pandemic with sometimes polarizing populist rhetoric is a familiar refrain. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Trump cranks up populism as virus threatens reelection," 24 Apr. 2020 While Trump’s policies may not reflect those of Jackson, some of his populist rhetoric does. Daniel Gullota, National Review, "Donald Trump Is No Andrew Jackson," 10 Feb. 2020 Some of this may be populist rhetoric, with Lukashenko facing an election in August. Robyn Dixon, Washington Post, "Russia once proposed a union with ally Belarus. Now the U.S. is getting between them.," 7 Feb. 2020 Trump has long supported Johnson, who opponents often compare to the U.S. president for his populist rhetoric. Rachel Elbaum, NBC News, "Trump rejoices over Johnson's victory in British election," 13 Dec. 2019 The question is what comes next: What Trump offers is tribal nationalism, strongman politics and plutocrat–friendly policy greased by populist rhetoric. Anand Giridharadas, Time, "How America’s Elites Lost Their Grip," 21 Nov. 2019 Warren is at the top or near the top of several polls but operates in a very different lane than Patrick is expected to occupy, given Warren’s populist rhetoric about the excesses of Wall Street and corporate greed. BostonGlobe.com, "launching a late-entry campaign for the White House," 14 Nov. 2019 The fictional Yaakov, whose voiceover narration helps delineate many of the plot points, is such a dynamic central character that viewers will likely relate to his passion even if becoming discomfited by the sometimes inflammatory populist rhetoric. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Unorthodox': Film Review," 14 June 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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Time Traveler for populist

Time Traveler

The first known use of populist was in 1891

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Statistics for populist

Last Updated

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

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