vox populi


vox po·​pu·​li ˈväks-ˈpä-pyü-ˌlī How to pronounce vox populi (audio) -pyə-(ˌ)lē How to pronounce vox populi (audio)
: popular sentiment or opinion : the voice of the people
Social media is supposed to be an arena that amplifies the vox populi, that makes it easier to know what we the people think.Kate Allen
The popularity of the genre may grow out of a widespread sense that the vox populi is being shouted down by the pols and pundits who hog the tube.Walter Goodman

Did you know?

In a letter to his wife in June of 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, General William Tecumseh Sherman wrote about General Ulysses S. Grant’s ongoing but successful siege at Vicksburg: “Grant is now deservedly the hero. … He is now belabored with praise by those who a month ago accused him of all the sins in the calendar, and who next week will turn against him if so blows the popular breeze. Vox populi, vox humbug.” Sherman was tweaking the maxim vox populi, vox Dei, a Latin phrase that translates as “The voice of the people [is] the voice of God” and that is used by many people (excepting Sherman, clearly) to mean “the people are always right.” This phrase is often shortened to vox populi when a writer or speaker wishes to invoke what they believe to be the popular opinion of the day, whether real or perceived, rock solid or blowing on the breeze.

Examples of vox populi in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Unelected constitutional courts acted as an elitist brake on the majoritarian vox populi, protecting human rights from unbridled populism. Shlomo Avineri, Foreign Affairs, 1 Jan. 2012 Remember, recent outrage among vox populi over a trans woman having the nerve to pitch Bud Light proved to be a brand killer. Kevin Paul Dupont, BostonGlobe.com, 9 June 2023 So much for vox populi, vox dei. WIRED, 19 Jan. 2023 Bands that have overstayed their welcome should agree to accept the results of a Twitter poll and head for the exits if the vox populi turns against them. Joe Queenan, WSJ, 22 Dec. 2022 This phenomenon goes by many names – swam intelligence, wisdom of the crowd, vox populi, and more. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 13 Sep. 2011 Trust will increase when the court decisions are non-partisan and reflective of the vox populi. Anchorage Daily News, 7 Aug. 2022 Goodness is not a constant, and the good fight is not always fought, but there is a strength and a resiliency and an eventuality to vox populi. David Marchese, New York Times, 10 June 2022 Polite opinion is almost unanimously against, but open your ears to the vox populi. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 1 Apr. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vox populi.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, voice of the people

First Known Use

circa 1547, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of vox populi was circa 1547


Dictionary Entries Near vox populi

Cite this Entry

“Vox populi.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vox%20populi. Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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