• synonyms


or dem·a·gog

[dem-uh-gog, -gawg]
See more synonyms for demagogue on Thesaurus.com
  1. a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.
  2. (in ancient times) a leader of the people.
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verb (used with object), dem·a·gogued, dem·a·gogu·ing.
  1. to treat or manipulate (a political issue) in the manner of a demagogue; obscure or distort with emotionalism, prejudice, etc.
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verb (used without object), dem·a·gogued, dem·a·gogu·ing.
  1. to speak or act like a demagogue.
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Origin of demagogue

1640–50; < Greek dēmagōgós a leader of the people, popular leader, equivalent to dêm(os) people + agōgós leading, guiding; see -agogue
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for demagogue

firebrand, agitator, revolutionary, incendiary, instigator, politician, rabble-rouser, fanatic, radical, inciter, rebel, troublemaker, hothead

Examples from the Web for demagogue

Contemporary Examples of demagogue

Historical Examples of demagogue

  • And here the demagogue arose and bade her shirk no issue, even the red flag.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

  • The contemptible beast was inspired, as a politician is, a demagogue.


    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

  • No one would have the United States play the role of a bully, or enact the demagogue.

    The Arena


  • The constituency of the grog seller is the ready made tool of the demagogue.

    The Arena


  • Like any other demagogue, he gains attention by his blusterings.

British Dictionary definitions for demagogue


sometimes US demagog

  1. a political agitator who appeals with crude oratory to the prejudice and passions of the mob
  2. (esp in the ancient world) any popular political leader or orator
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Word Origin for demagogue

C17: from Greek dēmagōgos people's leader, from dēmos people + agein to lead
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for demagogue


1640s, from Greek demagogos "popular leader," also "leader of the mob," from demos "people" (see demotic) + agogos "leader," from agein "to lead" (see act (n.)). Often a term of disparagement since the time of its first use, in Athens, 5c. B.C.E. Form perhaps influenced by French demagogue (mid-14c.).

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by 1964, American English, from demagogue (n.). Related: Demagogued; demagoguing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

demagogue in Culture


[(dem-uh-gog, dem-uh-gawg)]

A politician who seeks to win and hold office by appeals to mass prejudice. Demagogues often use lies and distortion. (See Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.)

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.