pop·​u·​list | \ ˈpä-pyə-list How to pronounce populist (audio) \

Definition of populist

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a member of a political party claiming to represent the common people especially, often capitalized : a member of a U.S. political party formed in 1891 primarily to represent agrarian interests and to advocate the free coinage of silver and government control of monopolies
2 : a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people



Definition of populist (Entry 2 of 2)

1 often capitalized : of, relating to, or characterized by populism

Other Words from populist


populism \ ˈpä-​pyə-​ˌli-​zəm How to pronounce populist (audio) \ noun
populistic \ ˌpä-​pyə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce populist (audio) \ adjective

Examples of populist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Salvini, a populist known for his nationalist and anti-immigration politics, could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty and could be barred from holding government office. Miriam Berger, Washington Post, 24 Oct. 2021 Boric narrowly lost the first round of the vote in November to far-right populist José Antonio Kast but managed to reverse his opponent’s advantage to take 56 percent of the vote in the runoff, compared with Kast’s 44 percent. Washington Post, 20 Dec. 2021 The president directed that a new government be formed, backed by a pair of opposition alliances that secured an overall majority in elections last month, ending the rule of billionaire populist Andrej Babiš. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 Nov. 2021 In borrowing from the Right: French president Emmanuel Macron, a centrist who beat the right-populist Marine Le Pen in his last election, now tries to get to Le Pen’s right on issues of domestic security — and even culture. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 17 May 2021 Zelaya, an ebullient politician with a signature white cowboy hat, had run as a conservative populist, and then surprised the country by allying himself with Hugo Chávez and Raúl Castro. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, 8 Nov. 2021 Former lawmaker José Antonio Kast, a conservative populist who has expressed enthusiasm for the economic model of former dictator Augusto Pinochet, is running on law, order and spending cuts. Washington Post, 20 Nov. 2021 South Africans often compare Zuma, a charismatic populist who maliciously exploited the country’s political, racial, and ethnic divisions, to Donald Trump. Robin Wrigh, The New Yorker, 28 July 2021 This gushing fixation on individual strongmen is everywhere evident on the populist right today. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, 28 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective That crippled and eventually destroyed the populist movement. Clarence Page, chicagotribune.com, 14 Jan. 2022 Indeed, Portugal has a much weaker populist movement than other Southern European countries. Christine Ro, Forbes, 3 Jan. 2022 The bile heaped on 13 GOP members who backed a bipartisan infrastructure bill revealed another example of the zealotry pulsating through the conservative populist movement. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 9 Nov. 2021 If history is a guide, Trump will not fully actualize his populist movement. Sean-michael Pigeon, National Review, 9 July 2021 El Salvador’s populist president, who doesn’t hide his authoritarian ambitions, also wants a new constitution. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, 26 Dec. 2021 Dean Obeidallah smartly unpacks why this offbeat election -- where opposition parties joined forces to topple populist Prime Minister Andrej Babiš -- has so much to teach the US about defeating Trumpism. Richard Galant, CNN, 19 Dec. 2021 The populist president elected in 2019 has maintained high popularity with his vows to stamp out corruption that was rampant among the country's traditional parties. Marcos Aleman, ajc, 5 Sep. 2021 The Bitcoin Law is the brainchild of El Salvador’s populist president, Nayib Bukele. Steve H. Hanke, National Review, 20 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'populist.' 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 populist


1891, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1892, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for populist


Latin populus the people

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The first known use of populist was in 1891

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Populist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/populist. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of populist

: of or relating to a political party that claims to represent ordinary people


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