1790, "adherent or advocate of democracy," with reference to France, from French démocrate (18c., opposed to aristocrate), back-formation from démocratie (see democracy); formally revived in U.S. as a political party affiliation 1798, with a capital D. As a shortening of this, Demo (1793) is older than Dem (c. 1840). An earlier noun for "adherent of democracy" was democratian (1650s).
1798 (transitive) "make popular or common, bring to a common level, render democratic;" 1840 (intransitive) "become democratic," from French démocratiser, noted as one of the neologisms of the Revolution, from démocratie (see democracy). Greek demokratizein meant "to be on the democratic side."
c. 1600, "of the nature of or characterized by democracy; pertaining to democracy," from French démocratique, from Medieval Latin democraticus, from Greek demokratikos "of or for democracy; favoring democracy," from demokratia "popular government" (see democracy). Earlier was democratian (1570s), democratical (1580s). Related: Democratically.
As a political faction name, from 1790 in reference to France. U.S. political usage (with a capital D) attested from c. 1800. The party originally was the Anti-Federal party, then the Democratic-Republican (Democratic for short). It formed among those opposed to extensive powers for the U.S. federal government. The name of the party was not formally shortened to Democratic until 1829. Democratic socialism is attested from 1849.
We teach the population at the cheapest possible rate; and the aim all the democratization (if we may use the word) of literature proposes to itself in this country, is to store the minds of the many, of the anonymous multitude, with a large portion of valuable, because practically useful, facts. [Meliora, vol. ii, no. 6, 1860]