pro·pa·gan·da | \ ˌprä-pə-ˈgan-də , 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, ˌprō- \ noun or adjective
propagandistic \ˌprä-pə-ˌgan-ˈdi-stik, ˌprō- \ adjective
propagandistically \ˌprä-pə-ˌgan-ˈdi-sti-k(ə-)lē, 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

Pro-life is a propaganda term that isn't real, like healthy ice cream. Fox News, "Meadows, Dershowitz react after Lisa Page defies subpoena," 12 July 2018 Changes in media, the rise of a propaganda operation, best invited by Fox News, the radicalization of the right wing, and I ... we ... the battle against the birther conspiracy and fake news. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Pod Save America’s Dan Pfeiffer on Recode Media," 2 July 2018 To build public support for their anti-Semitic policies, the Nazi government constructed an elaborate propaganda machine. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Why Tyrants Dehumanize the Powerless," 20 June 2018 The summit itself provides a major propaganda win for the North Korean dictator, elevating him on the world stage to the level of the leader of the United States. Andy Sharp,, "Here’s What to Watch for When Trump and Kim Meet," 11 June 2018 By 1918, after the Russian Revolution, the newspaper became the modern state’s official propaganda outlet. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "Elon Musk thinks you can crowdsource truth, but that’s not how the internet works," 24 May 2018 The South actually began blaring propaganda reports across the border through high-decibel loudspeakers more than 50 years ago. John Bacon, ajc, "South Korea stops blasting K-pop at North Korea across the DMZ ahead of nuclear talks," 23 Apr. 2018 Right before the November presidential election to elect George W. Bush or John Kerry, Sinclair required its stations to run Stolen Honor, a propaganda documentary suggesting that Kerry’s Vietnam service record was false. Jason Johnson, The Root, "Here Are the House Races Where Sinclair Broadcast’s Propaganda Could Have the Biggest Impact," 17 Apr. 2018 And there was Cassandra Fairbanks, the heavily tattooed pro-Trump journalist formerly employed by Russian propaganda site Sputnik. Alexander Nazaryan, Newsweek, "Is Silicon Valley Silencing Conservatives on Social Media?," 15 Mar. 2018

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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Last Updated

10 Sep 2018

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The first known use of propaganda was in 1668

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English Language Learners Definition of propaganda

: 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 \

Kids Definition of propaganda

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

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the setting in which something occurs

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