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pop·​u·​list ˈpä-pyə-list How to pronounce populist (audio)
: 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
: a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people
populism noun
populistic adjective


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often capitalized : of, relating to, or characterized by populism

Examples of populist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
While populists like Marine Le Pen in France or Matteo Salvini in Italy made huge gains nearly a decade ago, in Portugal, that surge didn’t happen straight away. Vasco Cotovio, CNN, 7 Mar. 2024 The other a Republican factory worker who turned turned into a right-wing populist with brash deliveries on about culture war issues. Phillip M. Bailey, USA TODAY, 3 Mar. 2024 Supporters of Bolsonaro, a populist often likened to former President Donald Trump, invaded and ransacked Brazil’s presidential palace, Supreme Court and Congress calling for a military coup on Jan. 8, 2023, a week after Lula took office. Reuters, NBC News, 26 Feb. 2024 Maybe even the Bannon-style populists would like it. John Tamny, Forbes, 26 Feb. 2024 Throughout his time in power, Thaksin was hugely popular with Thailand’s rural and working class but his policies were anathema to the rich elites and conservatives who accused him of being a dangerous and corrupt populist. Kocha Olarn, CNN, 17 Feb. 2024 Hix is co-author of a report for the European Council on Foreign Relations that predicts that anti-EU populists will probably top the polls in nine member states in the European parliamentary elections in June. Nayla Razzouk, Fortune Europe, 13 Feb. 2024 Today, the same question arises about taking power out of the hands of Poland’s national populists. Foreign Affairs, 12 Mar. 2024 Part of the explanation, analysts said, was that dark memories of a right-wing dictatorship that fell in 1974 kept populists at bay. Catarina Fernandes Martins, Washington Post, 8 Mar. 2024
Scholars who have spent their careers studying populist movements are not confused about what to expect. Jonathan Mahler Edoardo Ballerini Emma Kehlbeck Joel Thibodeau, New York Times, 7 Apr. 2024 As Manus sees it, Trump ripped the scab off the wound of festering populist disenchantment. Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times, 24 Mar. 2024 Lenny Jones, the president of the Missouri and Kansas branch of the SEIU, which represents service workers, said Hawley’s talk about workers has been able to peel off workers who may have once supported Democrats by using populist rhetoric. Daniel Desrochers, Kansas City Star, 22 Mar. 2024 Gripes like these are fueling a populist internet meme across Instagram, Threads and TikTok. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, 21 Mar. 2024 Some analysts fear that expanding the EU’s security role would invite a populist backlash. Max Bergmann, Foreign Affairs, 21 Mar. 2024 Fiala’s predecessor, Andrej Babis, is similarly aligned with Fico’s camp, a populist wary of E.U. diktat and more friendly to Moscow. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 20 Mar. 2024 Chumbawamba’s members want the populist politician to stop all references to the song. Lars Brandle, Billboard, 20 Mar. 2024 The victor will run in November against Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat with a long-standing brand as a populist, working-class advocate facing stiff headwinds in the Republican-friendly state. Tal Axelrod, ABC News, 19 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'populist.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Latin populus the people

First Known Use


1891, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1892, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of populist was in 1891

Dictionary Entries Near populist

Cite this Entry

“Populist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/populist. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

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