pro·​pa·​gan·​da ˌprä-pə-ˈgan-də How to pronounce propaganda (audio)
capitalized : a congregation of the Roman curia having jurisdiction over missionary territories and related institutions
: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
: 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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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.
Recent Examples on the Web It is not intended to be propaganda, or an attempt to persuade anyone of anything. Saira Mueller, CNN, 2 Apr. 2024 Mock news sites are targeting Americans with Russian propaganda. Steven Lee Myers, New York Times, 1 Apr. 2024 The increase was led by a 30% uptick in antisemitic propaganda and a 141% increase in anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda incidents, researchers said. Will Carless, USA TODAY, 29 Mar. 2024 Taking them on as performers protects us from ever mistaking shows such as Morning Joe, 60 Minutes, Face the Nation, Anderson Cooper 360, Meet the Press, and The Reid Out with Joy Reid as anything other than propaganda. Armond White, National Review, 29 Mar. 2024 In the time since, misinformation on topics like climate change and the Israel-Hamas war, propaganda from foreign governments and hate speech have increasingly spread with almost no interference, the New York Times reported last year. Mary Whitfill Roeloffs, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 Are the people praising the Chinese reaction, especially that of the state, doing it out of conviction or just reiterating propaganda? Murtada Elfadl, Variety, 22 Mar. 2024 The regulations for allies are so vague that the law could be open to interpretation to mean supporting LGBTQ+ people by holding meetings, rallies or even using online symbols like a rainbow flag emoji that could be considered propaganda. Amanda Gerut, Fortune, 20 Mar. 2024 Like elsewhere on the platform since its takeover by Elon Musk, Chinese-language X is increasingly filled with misinformation, propaganda and pornography. Nectar Gan, CNN, 18 Mar. 2024

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

Word History


New Latin, from Congregatio de propaganda fide Congregation for propagating the faith, organization established by Pope Gregory XV †1623

First Known Use

1668, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of propaganda was in 1668

Dictionary Entries Near propaganda

Cite this Entry

“Propaganda.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


pro·​pa·​gan·​da ˌpräp-ə-ˈgan-də How to pronounce propaganda (audio)
: an organized spreading of certain ideas
also : the ideas spread in this way
propagandist noun or adjective
propagandistic adjective
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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