pro·​pa·​gan·​da | \ ˌprä-pə-ˈgan-də How to pronounce propaganda (audio) , ˌprō- \

Definition of propaganda

1 capitalized : a congregation of the Roman curia having jurisdiction over missionary territories and related institutions
2 : the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
3 : ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause also : a public action having such an effect

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Other Words from propaganda

propagandist \ ˌprä-​pə-​ˈgan-​dist How to pronounce propagandist (audio) , ˌprō-​ \ noun or adjective
propagandistic \ ˌprä-​pə-​ˌgan-​ˈdi-​stik How to pronounce propagandistic (audio) , ˌprō-​ \ adjective
propagandistically \ ˌprä-​pə-​ˌgan-​ˈdi-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce propagandistically (audio) , ˌprō-​ \ adverb

The History of Propaganda

Propaganda is today most often used in reference to political statements, but the word comes to our language through its use in a religious context. The Congregatio de propaganda fide (“Congregation for propagating the faith”) was an organization established in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV as a means of furthering Catholic missionary activity. The word propaganda is from the ablative singular feminine of propogandus, which is the gerundive of the Latin propagare, meaning “to propagate.” The first use of the word propaganda (without the rest of the Latin title) in English was in reference to this Catholic organization. It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that it began to be used as a term denoting ideas or information that are of questionable accuracy as a means of advancing a cause.

Examples of propaganda in a Sentence

She didn't buy into the propaganda of her day that women had to be soft and submissive. — Maria Shriver, Time, 26 Oct. 2009 They see all clear thinking, all sense of reality, and all fineness of living, threatened on every side by propaganda, by advertisement, by film and television. — C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism, (1961) 2009 We've so bought into the mass delusion, the nutty propaganda, that now the ideal American family is one that's on steroids … — Anna Quindlen, Newsweek, 27 Apr. 2009 … just propaganda for a mode of life no one could live without access to the very impulse-suppressing, nostalgia-provoking drugs they don't want you to have … — Richard Ford, Independence Day, 1995 He was accused of spreading propaganda. The report was nothing but lies and propaganda.
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Recent Examples on the Web The government is also projecting that confidence overseas through a propaganda campaign that attempts to re-frame China as the global leader in the fight against the epidemic, and dispelling the narrative that the Covid-19 outbreak began in China. Jane Li, Quartz, "Xi Jinping’s visit to Wuhan sends a clear message: China has defeated the coronavirus," 9 Mar. 2020 But in part because those narratives could have been part of an ancient propaganda campaign, doubts persist about who was the real victor. Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Science | AAAS, "Top stories: Coronavirus’ next phase, glowing newts, and Japan’s cruise ship fiasco," 28 Feb. 2020 Included here: galleries on the U.S. propaganda campaign; discrimination in the armed services; women in the workforce; and the Victory Cook Book, with tips on planning balanced meals under food rationing. Susan Glaser, cleveland, "National World War II Museum in New Orleans tells an emotional, heart-wrenching tale," 9 Feb. 2020 The Warmbiers have claimed that their college student son, Otto, was tortured by North Korea after being convicted in 2016 of trying to steal a propaganda poster and imprisoned for months. NBC News, "Parents of late U.S. hostage Otto Warmbier chasing North Korean assets," 22 Nov. 2019 Clifford specifically pointed to one propaganda poster cited in a report from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence in London. Omar Jimenez, CNN, "The Department of Justice says a Chicago gang leader was radicalized by ISIS," 21 Nov. 2019 The Site Intelligence Group said Monday the neo-Nazi group, The Base, posted a 46-second video on Saturday showing members spraying different surfaces with adhesive spray and applying the group’s propaganda posters around Boston University., "The Site Intelligence Group said Monday the neo-Nazi group, The Base, posted a 46-second video on Saturday showing members spraying different surfaces with adhesive spray and applying the group’s propaganda posters around Boston University.," 12 Nov. 2019 Why We Fight, the masterpiece of propaganda that Frank Capra created under the auspices of the War Department, displays a quotation from Marshall’s West Point speech. Andrew J. Bacevich, Harper's magazine, "The Old Normal," 2 Mar. 2020 The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. Darrel Rowland, USA Today, "You're going to face a tsunami of disinformation again this election cycle, experts warn," 24 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'propaganda.' 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 propaganda

1668, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for propaganda

New Latin, from Congregatio de propaganda fide Congregation for propagating the faith, organization established by Pope Gregory XV †1623

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Time Traveler for propaganda

Time Traveler

The first known use of propaganda was in 1668

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Statistics for propaganda

Last Updated

25 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Propaganda.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Mar. 2020.

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More Definitions for propaganda


How to pronounce propaganda (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of propaganda

usually disapproving : ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, a government, etc.


pro·​pa·​gan·​da | \ ˌprä-pə-ˈgan-də How to pronounce propaganda (audio) \

Kids Definition of propaganda

: an organized spreading of often false ideas or the ideas spread in such a way

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