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 raised the spectre of Mrs von der Leyen owing her majority to right-wing populists from outside the mainstream, some of whom backed her to avoid getting Frans Timmermans, the socialists’ preferred choice. Charlemagne | Strasbourg, The Economist, "Ursula von der Leyen is elected European Commission president," 16 July 2019 There, President Mauricio Macri, a market-friendly former businessman, became president in 2015, vowing to reverse the disastrous policies of his predecessor, the leftist populist Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Frida Ghitis For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "America-first trade policy is crushing the global economy," 1 Sep. 2019 Americans might not have a nobility but our dogs do, though the populist in all of us loves a happy, scrappy mutt. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Dog Days of Summer? Visit the New Museum of the Dog," 24 Aug. 2019 Opinion polls show the far-right populists on track to win the largest share of the votes in Quitt’s state of Brandenburg as well as in Saxony — two states in the formerly communist east. Los Angeles Times, "Violence by refugees and far-right extremists is darkening political attitudes in Germany," 22 Aug. 2019 Johnson is regarded as an eccentric, gaffe-prone populist who draws comparisons to President Donald Trump. Editors, USA TODAY, "Britain's new prime minister, first responder vote, Justice Stevens' funeral: 5 things to know Tuesday," 23 July 2019 In Greece, the mainstream has returned to power and the populists are in retreat. Ian Bremmer, Time, "The Greek Election Brings Hope for a Country in Need," 11 July 2019 But even with differing views on the threat posed by Moscow, the European populists share plenty of common ground on matters such as curbing immigration and restricting the regulatory powers of the EU. Laura King, latimes.com, "Poland’s visiting president faces little pressure from Trump over democratic backsliding," 12 June 2019 After meeting with Italian populists in Milan, Nigel Farage decided to emulate their digital tools and propaganda strategy when building the Brexit party in the UK. Elif Shafak, Quartz, "Nationalism is thriving using the very mechanism it denounces," 6 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Johnson is part of a wave of populist leaders around the globe who are challenging norms and asking why things can’t be done differently. Washington Post, "‘The Trumpization of U.K. politics’: Boris Johnson is busting political norms," 9 Sep. 2019 There’s no way that police officers should’ve formed the backdrop to a speech of that nature.’’ Johnson is part of a wave of populist leaders around the globe who are challenging norms and asking why things can’t be done differently. Karla Adam, BostonGlobe.com, "‘The Trumpization of UK politics’: Boris Johnson is busting political norms," 8 Sep. 2019 The populist Brazilian leader initially questioned whether activist groups might have started the fires in an effort to damage the credibility of his government. Anchorage Daily News, "G-7 pledges funds to fight Amazon fires," 26 Aug. 2019 Reacting to the arrogance and disdain of the globalized urban upper crust, these voters drove the election of Donald Trump, the support for Brexit, and the rise of populist parties across Europe. Joel Kotkin, National Review, "The Return to Serfdom," 25 July 2019 More: Early results in Iraq election favor populist cleric al-Sadr More: Now that ISIS is mostly defeated, will U.S. stay in Iraq? Jim Michaels, USA TODAY, "Former U.S. enemy in Iraq is now potential ally against Iran," 24 May 2018 Mission-Lifeline captain Claus-Peter Reisch said bad weather forced him to bring the Eleanore to port after the migrants were stranded on board for eight days by the outgoing populist government’s crackdown on humanitarian rescue boats. Washington Post, "1,500 asylum-seekers being transported to Greek mainland," 3 Sep. 2019 In rallying her troops, Boudica claimed a populist mantle. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, "The Brexit Warnings to Be Found in Sheep Grazing in a London Park," 3 Sep. 2019 Then on August 11th Mr Macri was resoundingly defeated by Alberto Fernández, his populist opponent in the presidential election in October, in a primary poll that acts as a dress rehearsal for that election. The Economist, "Argentina’s beleaguered government imposes capital controls," 2 Sep. 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

19 Sep 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).


concealment of treason or felony

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