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 This lethal epidemic sweeping out of control through the homosexual enclaves of America has been turned into a propaganda ploy, in our opinion. Cnn Staff, CNN, "Learning from the AIDS Epidemic: Dr. Sanjay Gupta's coronavirus podcast for June 29," 29 June 2020 The defectors have continued their propaganda efforts despite protests from Pyongyang and inter-Korean agreements to stop them. Choe Sang-hun,, "North Korea vows to dump millions of leaflets and trash on the South," 22 June 2020 Reuters reports that speculation ranged from UFOs to North Korean propaganda. Fox News, "Mysterious balloon-like 'UFO' object spotted over Japan," 18 June 2020 Tensions escalated earlier this month after North Korea lashed out at both the South and the North Koreans defectors living there for propaganda leaflets and balloons that have been sent into the North. NBC News, "North Korea says it will 'postpone' plan for military action in apparent softening toward South Korea," 17 June 2020 Plutarch Heavensbee changes up the lyrics for a propaganda film for the rebellion against the Capitol. Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, "'Hunger Games' primer: What to remember before reading new prequel 'Songbirds and Snakes'," 10 June 2020 Cotton’s op-ed is an opinion, but it’s one based on lies and propaganda and its one that will put countless Black Americans — including the Black journalists at the Times — in danger., "Tom Cotton’s Op-Ed Puts Black Lives In Danger — & The New York Times Needs To Denounce It," 4 June 2020 Did this subjugation to national security concerns mean, as some claim, that for the United States, human rights were simply a bit of clever propaganda used to pretty up a ruthless empire? Mark Danner, The New York Review of Books, "Moving Backward: Hypocrisy and Human Rights," 3 June 2020 The move followed a spring filled with several short-range-missile tests, weeks of lurid rhetoric against the South by the regime’s propaganda organs and the severing of communication lines with the South on June 9th. The Economist, "Fighting mockery with munitions North Korea blows up the South’s de facto embassy," 18 June 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 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Propaganda.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jul. 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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