V2 Vocabulary Building Dictionary



Definition: a leader who gains power by appealing to the emotions and prejudices of the people

Synonyms: incendiary, agitator, firebrand, rabble-rouser, fanatic


Tips: Demagogue comes from the Greek word demos, "people" and agogos, "leading." In ancient Greece a demagogue was a popular leader who represented the ordinary people; later, the word took on its current, negative connotation. The noun demagoguery is used to refer to a demagogue's impassioned appeals. The verb demagogue is the act of being a demagogue and appealing to people's weaknesses or emotions. Use the word demagogue as a strong way of criticizing a politician who uses hot-button issues to appeal to the ignorance or emotions of people merely for his or her own political gain, versus a true conviction or belief in the issue. Gay marriage, abortion, gun control, stem cell research, the military draft, and others are all issues used by both political parties for demagoguery.

Usage Examples:

This candidate has no real position on any of the issues; he is merely a demagogue trying to whip the people into a frenzy by encouraging their prejudices. (agitator, firebrand)

Such blatant demagoguery cheapens the entire electoral process. (rabble-rousing, exaggeration) noun

This man is just a demagogue with a lot of empty promises, but no true ideas. (agitator, fanatic)

The demagogue's plan to rouse the people into a frenzy was deflected by a true leader. (rabble-rouser)

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