pro·​pa·​gan·​da ˌprä-pə-ˈgan-də How to pronounce propaganda (audio)
capitalized : a congregation of the Roman curia having jurisdiction over missionary territories and related institutions
: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
: 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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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.
Recent Examples on the Web Investigators found evidence that the students were radicalized after coming to Kentucky, primarily swayed by online propaganda. Beth Warren, The Courier-Journal, 17 July 2024 Abuses of voice and image cloning have already occurred in the real world, such as the recent case of a Ukrainian woman who discovered that her digital likeness was being used to spout pro-Russian propaganda in Chinese to online audiences in China. Patrick Frater, Variety, 11 July 2024 The Justice Department did not detail whether the bot network had been particularly successful in its messaging efforts; similar attempts to spread propaganda and misinformation have struggled in recent years to gain traction. David Ingram, NBC News, 9 July 2024 And with Palestine, especially, people forget that their racist propaganda is actually what's top of mind. Sally Tamarkin, Them, 28 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for propaganda 

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1668, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of propaganda was in 1668

Dictionary Entries Near propaganda

Cite this Entry

“Propaganda.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


pro·​pa·​gan·​da ˌpräp-ə-ˈgan-də How to pronounce propaganda (audio)
: an organized spreading of certain ideas
also : the ideas spread in this way
propagandist noun or adjective
propagandistic adjective
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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