[pop-yuh-liz-uh m]


the political philosophy of the People's party.
(lowercase) any of various, often antiestablishment or anti-intellectual political movements or philosophies that offer unorthodox solutions or policies and appeal to the common person rather than according with traditional party or partisan ideologies.
(lowercase) grass-roots democracy; working-class activism; egalitarianism.
(lowercase) representation or extolling of the common person, the working class, the underdog, etc.: populism in the arts.

Origin of Populism

1890–95, Americanism; < Latin popul(us) people + -ism
Related formsan·ti-Pop·u·lism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for populism



a political strategy based on a calculated appeal to the interests or prejudices of ordinary people
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 populism

1893; see populist + -ism. Originally in reference to the political theories of the U.S. Populist Party (also People's Party).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

populism in Culture


The belief that greater popular participation in government and business is necessary to protect individuals from exploitation by inflexible bureaucracy and financial conglomerates. “Power to the people” is a famous populist slogan.

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.