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[dem-uh-gog, -gawg] /ˈdɛm əˌgɒg, -ˌgɔg/
a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.
(in ancient times) a leader of the people.
verb (used with object), demagogued, demagoguing.
to treat or manipulate (a political issue) in the manner of a demagogue; obscure or distort with emotionalism, prejudice, etc.
verb (used without object), demagogued, demagoguing.
to speak or act like a demagogue.
Also, demagog.
Origin of demagogue
1640-50; < Greek dēmagōgós a leader of the people, popular leader, equivalent to dêm(os) people + agōgós leading, guiding; see -agogue Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for demagogue
  • Don't dismiss it as "trying to demagogue" or "a disrespectful direction".
  • I'm not interested in giving you a platform to demagogue.
  • Expect to be called a demagogue, but don't be a demagogue.
  • Always placing blame and finding fault is called being a demagogue.
  • If the charismatic leader is a demagogue, things go terribly wrong.
  • Most likely a demagogue will be in control.
  • At best he is a distastefully cynical demagogue.
  • Too bad he allowed his sanctimony to turn him into just another self-righteous demagogue.
  • The demagogue is the besetting plague of democracy.
  • Given the silver-tongued, narcissistic demagogue that he is, it is not surprising that he is claiming credit.
British Dictionary definitions for demagogue


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


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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demagogue in Culture
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 American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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