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 the night’s focus also served to highlight where Trump, who has governed as a populist with a nationalist streak, has often been at odds with the party’s traditional messages on the economy and intervention abroad. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, "Pence praises Trump as conservative defender at RNC: A.M. News Links," 27 Aug. 2020 Some will seek to channel the conservative populist, some might attempt to lead a revival of the more traditional, Reagan-era Republicanism, and some will surely attempt to rise on the strength of bridging that divide. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Republican convention becomes a showcase for potential successors," 25 Aug. 2020 Mahinda, a genial populist who is now prime minister, himself served two terms as a strongman president, from 2005 to 2015, appointing one brother to run the army and helping to install another as speaker of parliament. The Economist, "Banyan Sri Lanka is becoming a one-family state," 15 Aug. 2020 Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Biden’s main rival for the nomination — and still the independent standard-bearer of the populist left — has been given a keynote slot. Glenn Thrush, BostonGlobe.com, "How the Democrats are lining up their convention speakers," 11 Aug. 2020 Trump in his Ohio speech portrayed the initiatives as populist. Christopher Rowland, Washington Post, "Trump order requires government to ‘buy American’ for certain essential drugs," 7 Aug. 2020 Trump is a largely unideological populist, whose views on trade, spending, the border, and foreign policy — and a host of other major issues — are well within the mainstream. David Harsanyi, National Review, "Kamala Harris, Imaginary Centrist," 13 Aug. 2020 But the right-wing populist has also publicly doubted the severity of the fires. Washington Post, "Last year’s Amazon fires stirred international outrage. This year’s dry season has started out worse.," 8 Aug. 2020 The 65-year-old populist confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in the capital of Brasilia. Camille Fassett, The Denver Post, "Protective gear for medical workers begins to run low again," 7 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Trump’s agenda benefits the wealthy and few others, leveling a populist attack at the incumbent. Washington Post, "Trump’s lead over Biden on the economy appears vulnerable, a potential turning point," 10 Sep. 2020 That in turn permits autocrats to pose as populist champions of a mystical People, diverting attention from the economy’s concentrated wealth and rigged rules. Robert Kuttner, The New York Review of Books, "Can We Fix Capitalism?," 8 Sep. 2020 His populist policies and brash personality earned him both intense criticism and ardent support for his social programs and public works projects. Blake Pontchartrain, NOLA.com, "Blakeview: 85 years later, who shot Huey P. Long is still debated," 7 Sep. 2020 South Dakota’s right-wing populist political history began in the 1970s with a local version of Trump: attorney general, two-term governor and future member of the South Dakota Motorcycle Hall of Fame, William Janklow. Catherine Mcnicol Stock, Star Tribune, "The future of the GOP? Look at the Sturgis motorcycle rally.," 3 Sep. 2020 Argentina’s ruling coalition, Frente de Todos, is seeking to impose a one-time tax on wealthy citizens as part of a strategy to solidify the alliance’s populist credentials while boosting government revenue amid a deteriorating economic crisis. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "The Capital Note: Dollars & Lumber," 1 Sep. 2020 Trump’s success in taking working class White voters in 2016 from Hillary Clinton demonstrated that a more populist campaign could change the electoral math. Ryan Teague Beckwith, Bloomberg.com, "Trump’s Convention Offered Peek at 2024 Republican Primary," 29 Aug. 2020 The national populist brand that Trump promoted is what set him apart from 16 other candidates in the 2016 Republican primary. Siraj Hashmi, Washington Examiner, "2020 Countdown: The GOP convention," 26 Aug. 2020 Surely, the argument goes, their mismanagement exposes the fallacy of the populist promise. Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic, "The Pandemic Isn’t a Death Knell for Populism," 22 Aug. 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

31 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Populist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/populist. Accessed 20 Sep. 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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