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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Other Words from propaganda

propagandist \ ˌprä-​pə-​ˈgan-​dist How to pronounce propagandist (audio) , ˌprō-​ \ noun or adjective
propagandistic \ ˌprä-​pə-​ˌgan-​ˈdi-​stik How to pronounce propagandistic (audio) , ˌprō-​ \ adjective
propagandistically \ ˌprä-​pə-​ˌgan-​ˈdi-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce propagandistically (audio) , 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 From the grandfatherly voice-over at the outset, The Wolf House is framed as a piece of propaganda, making Maria’s adventure outside the colony’s walls dangerous and irresponsible. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "The Wolf House Is a Stop-Motion Nightmare," 20 May 2020 But the picture has become even more confused by a torrent of propaganda, unreliable theories and deliberate misinformation being pushed for a variety of reasons. Hadas Gold, CNN, "China is mobilizing its global media machine in the coronavirus war of words," 15 May 2020 The Chinese government — a body singularly adept in the creation and dissemination of propaganda — knows that racial hang-ups in the United States are ripe for exploitation. John Hirschauer, National Review, "‘Hate’ Is Not the Biggest Threat from Coronavirus," 23 Mar. 2020 Over the past century, this effort at control has even been extended to the human mind, first in totalitarian regimes through the technological dissemination of propaganda, but more recently in the governing of liberal democracies. Damon Linker, TheWeek, "Coronavirus' lessons in limits," 13 Mar. 2020 Steve Rasnic Tem, Centennial Nuggets game telecast full of propagandaWhat a joke! Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Testimony of an honorable man; Thankful for natural gas benefits; Another local horror flick; more responses (10/31/19)," 1 Nov. 2019 This column is a clinic in the use of propaganda — heavy on declarations, but light on evidence, reasoning and analysis. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: A high standard of living won’t save us," 4 Oct. 2019 Callie, who is initially critical of Chinese propaganda, begins to read her positionality as a South African freedom fighter on equally problematic terms. Nedine Moonsamy, Quartz Africa, "African writers are using science fiction to explore deepening relations with China," 28 Sep. 2019 Does the spike in propaganda mean an attack in the West is more likely? Joseph Hincks, Time, "With the World Busy Fighting COVID-19, Could ISIS Mount a Resurgence?," 29 Apr. 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

3 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Propaganda.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for propaganda


How to pronounce propaganda (audio)

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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