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

That loss energized progressives, who worked to pass a constitutional amendment to allow an income tax, building a coalition with agrarian populists and with temperance advocates who wanted to reduce federal reliance on alcohol taxes. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "Democrats Take Aim at the Reagan Tax Revolution," 15 Feb. 2019 Malcolm Turnbull’s stance in rejecting calls by populists to cut Australia’s large immigration intake -- fueling one of the fastest-growing populations in the developed world -- has been given a timely boost by the prime minister’s own Treasury. Jason Scott, Bloomberg.com, "Sorry Populists, Australia Says Mass Immigration Is a Good Thing," 16 Apr. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Greenville businessman John Warren, who served in the Marines and founded a mortgage lending business, has tried to claim the role of political outsider in a state where voters were drawn to Trump’s populist appeal. Time, "President Trump Urges South Carolina to Vote for Gov. Henry McMaster," 25 June 2018 Huckfeldt will discuss the implications of their support within the electorate for the future of party coalitions and a united populist appeal, noon at the UC Center Sacramento on K Street. Alexei Koseff, sacbee, "This law would affect just two people in California, including its author | The Sacramento Bee," 9 May 2018 Ford, who shares his brother’s populist appeal and combative style but keeps away from alcohol, has promised reduced taxes, lower electric power rates, and an end to the 14-year rule of the Liberal Party, led by an unpopular premier, Kathleen Wynne. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Brother of Rob Ford running for office, and sounds like Trump," 29 Apr. 2018 Ford, who shares his brother's populist appeal and combative style but keeps away from alcohol, has promised reduced taxes, lower electric power rates and an end to the 14-year rule of the Liberal Party, led by an unpopular premier, Kathleen Wynne. Alan Freeman, chicagotribune.com, "The brother of Toronto mayor Rob Ford is running for office — and he sounds a lot like Trump," 29 Apr. 2018 In major respects, Trump’s presidency is following outlines chalked out by Bush, the cowboy-in-chief whose populist appeal was enhanced by his belligerent foreign policy. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Donald Trump Is the New George W. Bush," 15 Mar. 2018 Beer connoisseurship has grown as erudite as wine criticism, without sacrificing beer’s populist appeal. Jonathan Kauffman, San Francisco Chronicle, "Craft beer’s coming-out party for LGBTQ brew lovers," 7 Feb. 2018 Renacci, who earlier this week jumped from the Republican gubernatorial primary to the U.S. Senate race to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown, has pinned his political hopes on Trump and his populist appeal. Scott Wartman, Cincinnati.com, "Trump's crude immigration remarks don't bother Jim Renacci, who expects Trump's support in the Senate race," 12 Jan. 2018 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

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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Statistics for populist

Last Updated

18 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for populist

The first known use of populist was in 1891

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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

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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).


marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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