propaganda

noun
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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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 By burrowing within the brutal propaganda of apartheid, Hermanus, in his intensely expressive, achingly sorrowful fourth film, has captured a mean machinery at work – one that still abides, long after the end of apartheid. Jake Coyle, Detroit Free Press, "In ‘Moffie,’ brutal intolerance in ’80s South Africa," 9 Apr. 2021 This year Greece celebrates the bicentennial of its War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, won with the help of some of the most powerful propaganda ever written. John Psaropoulos, WSJ, "How Poetry Won Independence for Greece," 8 Apr. 2021 The group was responsible for roughly 80% of the white supremacist propaganda found in 2020. Madeline Mitchell, The Enquirer, "'The whole campus is watching.' NKU to launch 'Watch the Rock' campaign after racist attacks," 7 Apr. 2021 By burrowing within the brutal propaganda of apartheid, Hermanus, in his intensely expressive, achingly sorrowful fourth film, has captured a mean machinery at work — one that still abides, long after the end of apartheid. Jake Coyle, Star Tribune, "Review: In 'Moffie,' brutal intolerance in '80s South Africa," 7 Apr. 2021 The propaganda appeared in every state except Hawaii. Fox News, "White supremacist propaganda surged in 2020, report says," 17 Mar. 2021 The exhibit was conceived to debunk the racist propaganda of the Jim Crow South. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "W.E.B. Du Bois showed us the power of data viz more than a century ago," 25 Feb. 2021 In Texas, the propaganda centered on the notion that Biden’s clean-energy plan would eliminate all jobs in the oil industry. Stephania Taladrid, The New Yorker, "Deconstructing the 2020 Latino Vote," 31 Dec. 2020 Indeed, pushing back against the deceptive negative propaganda of the Left proved successful. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "The Capital Letter: Week of November 16," 21 Nov. 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

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Propaganda.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/propaganda. Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for propaganda

propaganda

noun

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.

propaganda

noun
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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