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

The platform routinely serves videos espousing neo-Nazi propaganda, phony reports portraying dark-skinned people as violent savages and conspiracy theories claiming that large numbers of leading politicians and celebrities molested children. Casey Newton, The Verge, "How Congress missed another chance to hold big tech accountable," 12 Dec. 2018 Kulig plays Zula, a girl from the countryside who auditions for the Mazurek Ensemble, a troupe devoted to the performance of traditional folk music and, eventually, pro-Stalin propaganda. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "Joanna Kulig, the Dazzling Star of Cold War, Is About to Have a Very Big Year," 10 Dec. 2018 In June 2017, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her Facebook posts that the government considered anti-state propaganda, as part of a larger crackdown on bloggers and activists. Juan A. Lozano, The Seattle Times, "Exile won’t stop Vietnamese blogger from highlighting abuses," 21 Nov. 2018 An unending drumbeat of propaganda, from both official state outlets and private media empires aligned with the government, demonizes refugees and Muslims, falsely warning of an existential threat to Hungarian society and culture. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The 2018 campaign revealed the true fissure in American democracy," 6 Nov. 2018 Since September 2016, the Anti-Defamation League has recorded 478 instances of white supremacist propaganda at colleges and universities, according to the report. Julia Jacobs,, "White Supremacists’ Use of Campus Propaganda Is Soaring, Report Finds," 29 June 2018 Human rights groups and the European Union have been expressing concerns about the state of democracy in Poland over new laws that have eroded judicial independence and the ruling party’s transformation of public media into a propaganda tool. Vanessa Gera, The Seattle Times, "US ambassador angers Poles with letter to prime minister," 28 Nov. 2018 The regime considers them useful propaganda tools--returning the remains makes the regime look good and can be used to reward the former UN combatant countries. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "How U.S. Investigators Identify Korean War Dead Using DNA, Corn, and Water," 19 Sep. 2018 Possibility #3: The images are faked and were fed into social media either as a joke or as propaganda. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Why Does This German Frigate Have Drone “Kill Marks”?," 27 Aug. 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

17 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for propaganda

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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More from Merriam-Webster on propaganda

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with propaganda

Spanish Central: Translation of propaganda

Nglish: Translation of propaganda for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of propaganda for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about propaganda

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