dem·a·gogue also dem·a·gog (dĕmə-gôg′, -gŏg′)
1. A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace.
2. A leader of the common people in ancient times.
v. dem·a·gogued, dem·a·gogu·ing, dem·a·goguesalso dem·a·goged , dem·a·go·ging , dem·a·goges
Usage Problem To speak about (an issue, for example) in the manner of a demagogue.
Usage Problem To speak in the manner of a demagogue.
[Greek dēmagōgos, popular leader : dēmos, people; see dā- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + agōgos, leading (from agein, to lead; see ag- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]
Usage Note: Even though demagogue has been used as a verb meaning “to speak about something with the tactics of a demagogue” since the 1600s, the verb has kept a low profile in the language. The Usage Panel does not view the verb with much favor in either its transitive or intransitive use. In our 2016 survey, between 85 and 89 percent of the Usage Panel rejected it in a range of intransitive and transitive examples. These results are only slightly more favorable than when this issue was last balloted, nearly two decades earlier. Perhaps this continued resistance should not be surprising, since the use of familiar nouns as verbs is often the subject of complaints.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.