pop·u·list | \ˈpä-pyə-list \

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 \ noun
populistic \ˌpä-pyə-ˈli-stik \ adjective

Examples of populist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There is this fight between the globalists and the populists or nationalists or the tribalism. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Obama administration Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on Recode Decode," 21 June 2018 But for Trump to be an economic populist, his policies should reflect some demonstrable interest in improving the lives of working people. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "The Myth of Trump’s Populist Revolt," 18 May 2018 Containment is a strategy with uncertain outcomes, except for one: Selectively endorsing the policies of right-wing populists lends these policies respectability in the eyes of centrist voters. chicagotribune.com, "Europe forgot what 'conservative' means," 22 Mar. 2018 The landslide winner of Mexico’s presidential election pledged Monday to pursue cordial relations with a fellow populist, U.S. President Donald Trump, at a time when their two nations are at sharp odds over trade and immigration. David Agren, USA TODAY, "Mexico's new populist president pledges to work cordially with President Donald Trump," 2 July 2018 This March brings another nasty first: power to the populists of the left-wing 5 Star Movement and the far-right League. Josef Joffe, WSJ, "Italy’s Populist Flirtation Won’t Last," 3 June 2018 While Merkel was referring to populists in Germany, the underlying message may very well also have been directed against Trump, according to a memoir being published next week. Rick Noack, Washington Post, "After Obama, an emotional Merkel vowed to defend the liberal world order against Trump, book claims," 31 May 2018 Often the rise of populists reflects obvious policy failures and public frustrations that EU and national elites can ill afford to ignore. Angelos Chryssogelos, Time, "The Populism Debate Ignores the Real Lessons of Italy's Political Crisis," 31 May 2018 What Trump excelled in was expressing pure racial-cultural resentment, which makes him a certain breed of populist, but not an economic one. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "The Myth of Trump’s Populist Revolt," 18 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The frontrunner in Mexico’s July 1 presidential election is the leftist-populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Grace Donnelly, Fortune, "As Donald Trump Flirts With Trade Wars, These Are the Deals to Watch," 28 Feb. 2018 Italy has a new populist coalition that is pro-Putin. The Economist, "The Western alliance is in trouble," 5 July 2018 But Trump's preference for populist candidates like Corey Stewart, the Confederate-statue-supporting Republican who won the GOP nomination for Senate in Virginia on Tuesday, increasingly seems to be remaking the GOP, if not Congress, in his image. Lisa Mascaro And Meg Kinnard, chicagotribune.com, "'Trump enough?': Primary election lesson for Republicans: Don't cross the president," 13 June 2018 And yet the populist almost-coalition in Rome seemed to elicit a different kind of reaction. Angelos Chryssogelos, Time, "The Populism Debate Ignores the Real Lessons of Italy's Political Crisis," 31 May 2018 Most financial analysts say such radical moves are highly unlikely, even if the populist Five Star/League coalition ultimately takes power. Jonah Shepp, Daily Intelligencer, "Italy’s Political Crisis Is Rattling Europe. Here’s What You Need to Know.," 30 May 2018 The move comes after the populist coalition's choice for prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, abandoned his attempt to form a government following President Sergio Mattarella's refusal to endorse his Eurosceptic choice for finance minister. Bard Wilkinson, CNN, "Italian President summons Carlo Cottarelli as election turmoil deepens," 28 May 2018 To this point, Bryce’s campaign has been part of a national movement focused on ousting Ryan and sending a message to Democrats on how to run populist candidates. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "“IronStache” Randy Bryce on running in Wisconsin after Paul Ryan took himself out of the game," 12 Apr. 2018 Since the demise of the far-right British National Party five-odd years ago, and the implosion of the populist UK Independence Party after the Brexit referendum, voters to the right of the Tories have had no political home. The Economist, "Donald Trump lays into Britain’s Brexit plan," 13 July 2018

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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Last Updated

3 Oct 2018

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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

Spanish Central: Translation of populist

Nglish: Translation of populist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of populist for Arabic Speakers

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