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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web North Korean leaders have long valued face-to-face meetings with world leaders as signs of international importance and for domestic propaganda purposes. Hyung-Jin Kim and Kim Tong-Hyung, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 Sep. 2023 Poland’s justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, a leading member of Poland’s right-wing conservative government, has sharply criticized the film, which explores the humanitarian disaster affecting migrants along the Poland-Belarus border, comparing it to Nazi propaganda. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Sep. 2023 Read full article White supremacist propaganda rose at alarming rates throughout New England last year, with New Hampshire seeing the largest increase, while Massachusetts trailed only Texas in the number of hate incidents, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Emily Sweeney,, 5 Sep. 2023 Three months later, the attack on Pearl Harbor drew the country directly into World War II, and government contracts for wartime propaganda helped keep the studio afloat. Francine Uenuma, Washington Post, 4 Sep. 2023 Journalists are supposed to be society’s watchdogs against disinformation and propaganda. Dave Lieber, Dallas News, 4 Sep. 2023 In general, despite Hitler’s lifelong infatuation with Wagner, the composer’s propaganda value proved limited. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 2 Sep. 2023 And in World War I, the ruddy-faced, gruff-looking Uncle Sam came to supplant the more ethereal Columbia in war propaganda. Cari Shane, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Aug. 2023 In recent years, disinformation researchers have warned that AI language models could be used to craft highly personalized propaganda campaigns, and to power social media accounts that interact with users in sophisticated ways. Will Knight, WIRED, 29 Aug. 2023 See More

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 Sep. 2023.

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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