Definition of demagogue in English:

demagogue

noun

  • 1A political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument:

    ‘the Senator was a gifted demagogue, with particular skill in manipulating the press’
    • ‘In an attempt to divert the resulting social unrest, Stalinist bureaucrats and communalist demagogues fomented nationalist sentiments while seeking patrons among the major powers.’
    • ‘Moreover, the circus promises the appearance of a mysterious Prince, a demagogue who is plotting untold evil.’
    • ‘Sadly, but predictably, the effort to re-enfranchise people with felony convictions has come under attack from demagogues claiming a cynical political motive for the effort.’
    • ‘What do these reformist demagogues propose to the millions of minimum-wage workers and the millions of unemployed?’
    • ‘But that a fascist demagogue could receive considerable support among workers is cause for great concern.’
    • ‘Discontent fuelled by the pro-business policies of social democratic governments has given a boost to right-wing demagogues in several European countries.’
    • ‘It is time to oppose the racist demagogues and unite the defence of foreign workers and refugees with the campaign against unemployment, welfare cuts and attacks on basic rights.’
    • ‘Faced with this situation, it is increasingly the case that it is not only the most extreme right-wing demagogues who are playing the nationalist card.’
    • ‘I'm loathe to give support to reform which would bring such demagogues into parliamentary politics, let alone government.’
    • ‘Secondly, the continuing decline in living standards has led to a level of desperation and social degradation that provides a fruitful basis for the emergence of right-wing demagogues.’
    • ‘Its chief glories are the demagogue, the military bully, and the spreaders of libels and false history.’
    • ‘In so doing, she claims, they fall into ‘the logic of terrorists, demagogues, and other absolutists who perceive no moral dilemmas: For them, the right path is always clear.’’
    • ‘Although the political scene continues to be dominated by nationalist demagogues, there are signs that a significant section of voters feel disenfranchised as a result.’
    • ‘Furthermore it allows the electorate to participate more fully in national matters making politicians more experts in government than demagogues.’
    • ‘While his friends admired him as a nationalist leader, his enemies simply considered him a communist, a demagogue, and a dangerous man.’
    • ‘A return to national self-determination, he believes, would take the feet from under the new nationalist demagogues and bolster democratic politics in the historic nations of Europe.’
    • ‘He is a powerful demagogue and a high ranking political propagandist for the Republican party.’
    • ‘He has still not been allowed back but proves a democrat rather than a demagogue in person.’
    • ‘‘Lies have always been regarded as necessary and justifiable tools not only of the politician's or the demagogue's but also of the statesman's trade,’ he claimed.’
    • ‘Faced by a wave of support for anti-immigrant demagogues, there is a danger that governments will adopt some of their attitudes.’
    rabble-rouser, political agitator, agitator, soapbox orator, firebrand
    troublemaker, incendiary
    tub-thumper
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (in ancient Greece and Rome) a leader or orator who espoused the cause of the common people:
      ‘the Athenian demagogues had definite and valuable functions within the state’
      • ‘Tradition condemned the demagogues as tyrants who manipulated public opinion for their own selfish ends.’
      • ‘The masses were, in brief, shortsighted, selfish and fickle, an easy prey to unscrupulous orators who came to be known as demagogues.’
      • ‘Socrates was one of the most critical opponents of the demagogues.’
      • ‘School children are taught that democracy in ancient Greece failed because demagogues whipped up mobs.’
      • ‘The fear was that a charismatic leader could use the office of tribune, with its base of power in the common citizen, to become a demagogue.’
      • ‘For historians of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the case against Athenian democracy was linked directly to the case against the rhetorical practices of the Athenian demagogues.’

Origin

Mid 17th century: from Greek dēmagōgos, from dēmos the people + agōgos leading (from agein to lead).

Pronunciation

demagogue

/ˈdɛməɡɒɡ/