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

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 In what has been as much a series of propaganda exercises as military ones, China over the past few days has threatened territory that Taiwan considers its own more directly than ever before. Vivian Wang,, 6 Aug. 2022 Griner being a Black, gay woman held in Russia, a country with anti-gay propaganda law (that was extended to include adults in mid-July), is also not lost on her supporters. Brooklyn White, Essence, 5 Aug. 2022 In addition, Russia and China continue to wage aggressive social media propaganda campaigns aimed at further political divides among American audiences. Amanda Seitz, Chicago Tribune, 5 Aug. 2022 There can be little doubt that these draconian actions have their roots in past Beijing propaganda claiming that China had handled the virus more effectively than other nations. Milton Ezrati, Forbes, 11 July 2022 And especially in Moscow there’s not much pro-war propaganda. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 24 May 2022 For now, officials are swaddling Mr. Xi in effusive propaganda. Chris Buckley, New York Times, 1 May 2022 The rise in Russian online propaganda marks an expansion of the Kremlin’s influence campaigns in the region, according to four Western officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing investigations. Washington Post, 21 Apr. 2022 The language of the war is alive in the propaganda on Russian TV screens today. Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, 7 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About propaganda

Time Traveler for propaganda

Time Traveler

The first known use of propaganda was in 1668

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near propaganda




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for propaganda

Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Propaganda.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for propaganda


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


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!