a person who publicizes, especially a press agent or public-relations consultant.
an expert in current public or political affairs.
an expert in public or international law.

Origin of publicist

From German, dating back to 1785–95; see origin at public, -ist Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for publicist



a person who publicizes something, esp a press or publicity agent
a journalist
rare a person learned in public or international law
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 publicist

1792, "person learned in public law or the law of nations," from public (adj.) + -ist. Also from 1795 in English as "writer on current topics," from French publiciste; in either case a hybrid.

Then crept in the "loose" usage. Anybody who wrote or spoke about public affairs came to be dubbed a publicist. It was only a question of time when the dam would give way and the word flow in all directions and be made to cover every kind of talent, or lack of it. ["The Nation," Nov. 22, 1917]

Meaning "press agent" is from 1925 (publicity agent attested by 1900); publicitor also was tried in this sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper