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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web His pro-Russian stances are being distributed as Russian propaganda. Washington Post, 22 Apr. 2022 Russians tend to dismiss messages highlighting Russian war crimes as American propaganda, according to activists, and pictures of Russian casualties run the risk of inciting anger at Ukraine, rather than the Kremlin. New York Times, 13 Apr. 2022 Despite the administration’s immediate response, some Republicans warned Sunday that those words could be used as Russian propaganda. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, 27 Mar. 2022 American officials acknowledged that any direct rebuttals of Russian disinformation could be quickly dismissed by Moscow as American propaganda. Amanda Seitz, Fortune, 23 Mar. 2022 Some Ukrainian filmmakers and literary organizations have called for comprehensive boycotts of Russian films and books as cultural propaganda, and the withholding of Western creative works from Russia. Suzanne Nossel, WSJ, 10 Mar. 2022 The Foreign Affairs Ministry called on relevant agencies to support foreign citizens but appeared to dismiss the reports of discrimination as Russian propaganda. NBC News, 1 Mar. 2022 But now that Russian atrocities in Ukraine dominate the news cycle 24/7, the mechanisms through which Putin’s propaganda, disinformation, and dark money flow to the West are finally being shut down. Craig Unger, The New Republic, 21 Apr. 2022 Russian propaganda about the war in Ukraine cratered last month after Russian state news channels were blocked in Europe and restricted globally. Washington Post, 8 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of propaganda was in 1668

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Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Propaganda.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for propaganda


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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