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 As a result of the church’s anti-pipiltzintzintli propaganda, Mexico’s cannabis consumers were forced underground to hide their affinity for the plant. Zoe Wilder, Rolling Stone, "Does 4/20 Still Matter?," 19 Apr. 2021 Distributing propaganda, training and fundraising on behalf of those groups also violated the policy. Ashley Fantz, CNN, "The military has long had an extremism problem. What will it do now to finally solve it?," 31 Mar. 2021 As worker activism for improved conditions gained momentum, so did Amazon’s effort to counter it with anti-union propaganda, firings of key organizers and surveilling employees, according to interviews with more than two dozen workers. NBC News, "Amazon workers struggle for union rights, Chauvin trial Day 2 and Covid's mysterious origins," 30 Mar. 2021 Many in the mob that ransacked the Capitol did so while livestreaming, posting on Facebook and taking selfies, turning the seat of American lawmaking into a theater of real-time — and often strikingly ugly and violent — far-right propaganda. Jake Coyle, Star Tribune, "A theater of propaganda: The Capitol, cameras and selfies," 11 Jan. 2021 Social media companies should create tools and products to help public health authorities counter anti-vaccine propaganda, but also train them in using these tools. K. "vish" Viswanath For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "The consequences will be deadly if we don't fight vaccine misinformation," 15 Apr. 2021 And Ku Klux Klan propaganda promoting the rally showed up on lawns in Huntington Beach on Easter Sunday, a week after similar flyers appeared in Newport Beach. al, "California ‘White Lives Matter’ marchers find themselves outnumbered," 12 Apr. 2021 Without ethical standards, journalism is nothing but propaganda. Arkansas Online, "Letters," 10 Apr. 2021 In 2020, white supremacist propaganda in the United States hit an all-time high, according to the ADL. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, "KKK fliers, White Lives Matter rally: Huntington Beach confronts ‘storm of hate’," 9 Apr. 2021

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

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Propaganda.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for propaganda



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.


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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