- 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), dem·a·gogued, dem·a·gogu·ing.
- to treat or manipulate (a political issue) in the manner of a demagogue; obscure or distort with emotionalism, prejudice, etc.
verb (used without object), dem·a·gogued, dem·a·gogu·ing.
- to speak or act like a 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
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.