Meaning of demagogue in English:


Pronunciation /ˈdɛməɡɒɡ/

See synonyms for demagogue

Translate demagogue into Spanish


  • 1A political leader who seeks support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument.

    ‘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.’
    • ‘But that a fascist demagogue could receive considerable support among workers is cause for great concern.’
    • ‘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 has still not been allowed back but proves a democrat rather than a demagogue in person.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Furthermore it allows the electorate to participate more fully in national matters making politicians more experts in government than demagogues.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I'm loathe to give support to reform which would bring such demagogues into parliamentary politics, let alone government.’
    • ‘What do these reformist demagogues propose to the millions of minimum-wage workers and the millions of unemployed?’
    • ‘While his friends admired him as a nationalist leader, his enemies simply considered him a communist, a demagogue, and a dangerous man.’
    • ‘Faced by a wave of support for anti-immigrant demagogues, there is a danger that governments will adopt some of their attitudes.’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Moreover, the circus promises the appearance of a mysterious Prince, a demagogue who is plotting untold evil.’
    • ‘Its chief glories are the demagogue, the military bully, and the spreaders of libels and false history.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘Discontent fuelled by the pro-business policies of social democratic governments has given a boost to right-wing demagogues in several European countries.’
    • ‘He is a powerful demagogue and a high ranking political propagandist for the Republican party.’
    rabble-rouser, political agitator, agitator, soapbox orator, firebrand
    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’
      • ‘The masses were, in brief, shortsighted, selfish and fickle, an easy prey to unscrupulous orators who came to be known as demagogues.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘School children are taught that democracy in ancient Greece failed because demagogues whipped up mobs.’
      • ‘Socrates was one of the most critical opponents of the demagogues.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Tradition condemned the demagogues as tyrants who manipulated public opinion for their own selfish ends.’


[with object]US
  • Rhetorically exploit (an issue) for political purposes in a way calculated to appeal to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people.

    ‘he seems more interested in demagoguing the issue in media interviews than in dialogue’
    • ‘they routinely leap to conclusions that are not supported by any evidence and start demagoguing and fearmongering’
    • ‘I think those two particular concerns are totally unfounded and the issue has been largely demagogued.’
    • ‘He looks like he is demagoguing a non-issue.’
    • ‘He uses up the first 95 percent of his time explaining, re-explaining, and demagoguing about how bad the problem is.’
    • ‘You have to finally stand up their demagoguing and face them down.’
    • ‘He demagogued and demonized and slandered his opponents.’
    • ‘The demagoguing of these programs has become something else entirely.’
    • ‘He's demagogued as someone who wants to gut social insurance programs altogether.’
    • ‘They want to gain political points by demagoguing the issue.’
    • ‘His campaign inspired the sense that there was another way, that could actually solve problems instead of simply demagoguing them.’
    • ‘He recklessly demagogued the issue to spare himself a political problem.’


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