- demagogue (n.)
- 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.).
Indeed, since the term demagogos explicitly denotes someone who leads or shepherds the demos, the eventual use of this word as the primary epithet for a political panderer represents a virtual reversal of its original meaning. The word demagogos in fact implies that the people need someone to lead them and that political power, at least in part, is exercised appropriately through this leadership. [Loren J. Samons II, "What's Wrong With Democracy," University of California Press, 2004]
- demagogue (v.)
- by 1964, American English, from demagogue (n.). Related: Demagogued; demagoguing.