or dem·a·gog

[ dem-uh-gog, -gawg ]
See synonyms for demagogue on
  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.

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.

verb (used without object),dem·a·gogued, dem·a·gogu·ing.
  1. to speak or act like a demagogue.

Origin of demagogue

1640–50; <Greek dēmagōgós a leader of the people, popular leader, equivalent to dêm(os) people + agōgós leading, guiding; see -agogue

Words Nearby demagogue Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use demagogue in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for demagogue


sometimes US demagog

/ (ˈdɛməˌɡɒɡ) /

  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

Origin of 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

Cultural definitions for demagogue


[ (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.)

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.