Top 47 Slang For Propaganda – Meaning & Usage

Propaganda, a powerful tool used to influence and manipulate public opinion, is often accompanied by its own set of covert language and persuasive tactics. Curious to unravel the hidden messages and techniques behind propaganda? Our team has delved deep into the world of propaganda to bring you a curated list of the top slang terms used in propaganda. Stay ahead of the game and arm yourself with the knowledge to decode and analyze these persuasive strategies.

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1. Spin

Spin refers to the act of presenting information or events in a way that favors a particular viewpoint or agenda. It involves shaping the narrative to influence public opinion.

  • For example, a politician might spin a controversial decision to make it seem more favorable.
  • A news article might be accused of spinning the facts to support a specific narrative.
  • In a discussion about media bias, someone might say, “The way they spin the news is unbelievable.”

2. Brainwashing

Brainwashing refers to the process of manipulating someone’s thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes through intense and repetitive conditioning. It often involves techniques aimed at changing a person’s perception or worldview.

  • For instance, cults are known to use brainwashing tactics to control their members.
  • In a discussion about political propaganda, someone might argue, “The government is brainwashing the population with their messaging.”
  • A person might say, “I used to believe in that conspiracy theory, but I realized it was just brainwashing.”

3. Fake News

Fake news refers to false or misleading information presented as factual news. It is often spread through social media platforms and can be used to manipulate public opinion or deceive the audience.

  • For example, a viral article spreading false information about a celebrity might be labeled as fake news.
  • During a heated political campaign, candidates might accuse each other of spreading fake news.
  • A person might say, “You can’t trust everything you read online; there’s a lot of fake news out there.”

4. PsyOps

PsyOps, short for psychological operations, refers to the use of psychological techniques to influence and manipulate the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of individuals or groups. It is often employed by military or intelligence agencies.

  • For instance, during wartime, psyops might involve spreading propaganda to demoralize the enemy.
  • In a discussion about covert operations, someone might mention, “Psyops play a crucial role in shaping public opinion.”
  • A person might say, “I think they’re using psyops to manipulate the narrative.”

5. Astroturfing

Astroturfing refers to the practice of creating an artificial grassroots movement or support for a particular cause or agenda. It involves disguising the true sponsors or backers behind a seemingly organic movement.

  • For example, a company might astroturf online reviews to make their product appear more popular.
  • In a discussion about political campaigns, someone might accuse a candidate of astroturfing support.
  • A person might say, “I suspect this protest is just astroturfing; it doesn’t feel genuine.”

6. White-washing

White-washing refers to the act of distorting or hiding the truth to present a more positive or favorable image. It is often used in the context of propaganda to manipulate public opinion.

  • For example, a government might engage in white-washing by downplaying its human rights violations.
  • In a discussion about historical events, someone might accuse a particular narrative of white-washing the facts.
  • A journalist might write an article exposing the white-washing tactics used by a political party during an election campaign.

7. Misinformation

Misinformation refers to false or misleading information that is spread deliberately to deceive or manipulate people. It is a common tool used in propaganda to shape public opinion.

  • For instance, during a political campaign, opponents might spread misinformation about a candidate’s past.
  • In the age of social media, misinformation can spread quickly and reach a wide audience.
  • A fact-checking organization might debunk the misinformation being spread about a controversial topic.

8. Indoctrination

Indoctrination refers to the process of teaching someone to accept certain beliefs or ideologies without questioning or critically evaluating them. It is often associated with propaganda as a means of influencing and controlling people’s thoughts and behaviors.

  • For example, a totalitarian regime might use indoctrination to instill loyalty and obedience in its citizens.
  • In a discussion about education systems, someone might argue that certain curricula promote indoctrination rather than critical thinking.
  • A cult might employ indoctrination techniques to manipulate and control its members.

9. Jingoism

Jingoism refers to extreme patriotism or nationalism, often accompanied by aggressive and bellicose behavior. It is a term used to describe propaganda that promotes and glorifies war and military aggression.

  • For instance, during times of conflict, jingoistic rhetoric might be used to rally public support for war.
  • In a political debate, someone might accuse their opponent of using jingoism to appeal to nationalist sentiments.
  • A historian might analyze the role of jingoism in shaping a country’s foreign policy.

10. Agitprop

Agitprop is a term used to describe propaganda that aims to provoke agitation or unrest among the public. It often employs emotionally charged messages and imagery to incite action or support for a particular cause.

  • For example, during a protest or social movement, agitprop might be used to mobilize and galvanize participants.
  • In a discussion about political campaigns, someone might criticize the use of agitprop to manipulate public opinion.
  • An artist might create agitprop artwork as a form of political expression and activism.

11. Disinformation

This refers to false or misleading information that is spread intentionally to deceive or manipulate people. Disinformation can be used as a tactic in propaganda campaigns to shape public opinion or undermine trust in certain individuals or institutions.

  • For example, during an election, a political campaign might spread disinformation about their opponent to sway voters.
  • In a discussion about media literacy, someone might say, “It’s important to fact-check information to avoid falling for disinformation.”
  • A journalist investigating a propaganda campaign might uncover evidence of disinformation being disseminated through social media.

12. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation tactic that involves making someone doubt their own perceptions, memories, or sanity. In the context of propaganda, gaslighting can be used to distort or manipulate the truth in order to control or influence people’s beliefs or actions.

  • For instance, a government might engage in gaslighting by denying or downplaying evidence of their wrongdoing.
  • In a discussion about emotional abuse, someone might say, “Gaslighting is a common tactic used by manipulative individuals.”
  • A psychologist studying propaganda techniques might analyze how gaslighting is used to control narratives and shape public opinion.

13. Hype

Hype refers to exaggerated or excessive excitement or promotion of something. In the context of propaganda, hype can be used to generate enthusiasm or support for a particular cause, product, or idea by exaggerating its benefits or significance.

  • For example, a marketing campaign might use hype to create buzz around a new product launch.
  • In a discussion about media manipulation, someone might say, “The media often uses hype to grab attention and increase viewership.”
  • A critic analyzing a propaganda film might comment on how the use of hype influences audience perception.
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14. Puffery

Puffery refers to exaggerated or extravagant claims or statements that are not meant to be taken literally. In the context of propaganda, puffery can be used to create a positive image or perception of a person, organization, or product by making grandiose or boastful statements.

  • For instance, a political candidate might engage in puffery by promising to solve all of society’s problems.
  • In a discussion about advertising techniques, someone might say, “Puffery is a common tactic used to make products seem more appealing.”
  • A consumer reading a product review might be skeptical of puffery and look for evidence to support the claims being made.

15. Smear Campaign

A smear campaign refers to a coordinated effort to damage someone’s reputation or credibility through the spread of false or negative information. In the context of propaganda, a smear campaign can be used to discredit or undermine a person, group, or idea in order to manipulate public opinion or gain an advantage.

  • For example, during an election, a political candidate might launch a smear campaign against their opponent to sway voters.
  • In a discussion about media ethics, someone might say, “Journalists should be cautious about participating in or perpetuating smear campaigns.”
  • A historian studying propaganda might analyze how smear campaigns have been used throughout history to shape public perception.

16. Yellow Journalism

Yellow Journalism refers to a style of reporting that emphasizes sensationalism, exaggeration, and distortion of facts to attract readership. It often involves the use of eye-catching headlines, exaggerated claims, and biased reporting.

  • For example, a news article might use sensationalist language like, “Shocking new discovery could change the world!”
  • Yellow Journalism is often criticized for prioritizing entertainment value over accuracy and integrity in reporting.
  • A person discussing media ethics might say, “Yellow Journalism undermines the public’s trust in the media.”

17. Cover-up

A cover-up refers to the deliberate act of hiding, suppressing, or misleading information to prevent the truth from being known. It is often used to protect individuals, organizations, or governments from negative consequences or public scrutiny.

  • For instance, a government might attempt to cover up a scandal by withholding evidence or spreading false information.
  • A person discussing a conspiracy theory might claim, “The government is involved in a massive cover-up to hide the truth.”
  • Cover-ups are often seen as a breach of trust and can lead to public outrage and loss of credibility.

18. Whisper Campaign

A whisper campaign refers to a strategy of spreading rumors, gossip, or false information about a person, organization, or idea in a subtle and secretive manner. It is often used to shape public opinion or undermine the reputation of a target.

  • For example, a political candidate might engage in a whisper campaign to tarnish their opponent’s image without directly confronting them.
  • A person discussing political tactics might say, “Whisper campaigns are a common strategy used to manipulate public perception.”
  • Whisper campaigns can be difficult to trace back to their source, making them an effective tool for spreading propaganda.

19. Black Propaganda

Black Propaganda refers to the deliberate dissemination of false information or misleading narratives with the intent to deceive or manipulate the target audience. It is often used in covert operations, warfare, or political campaigns to discredit opponents or advance a particular agenda.

  • For instance, a government might engage in black propaganda to create confusion and undermine the morale of enemy forces.
  • A person discussing propaganda techniques might say, “Black propaganda relies on deception and manipulation to shape public opinion.”
  • Black propaganda is often associated with unethical and deceptive practices.

20. Astroturf Campaign

An Astroturf Campaign refers to a coordinated effort to create the impression of a grassroots movement or public support for a particular cause, idea, or organization. It involves the use of deceptive tactics, such as paid actors or fake online personas, to give the appearance of genuine grassroots support.

  • For example, a company might launch an Astroturf Campaign to promote a product and create the illusion of widespread consumer demand.
  • A person discussing political activism might say, “Astroturf campaigns undermine the authenticity of grassroots movements.”
  • Astroturf campaigns are often criticized for manipulating public opinion and distorting democratic processes.

21. Doublespeak

Doublespeak refers to the use of language that is intentionally vague, misleading, or contradictory in order to manipulate or deceive people. It is often used by politicians or organizations to disguise the true meaning of their message.

  • For example, a government official might use doublespeak when saying, “We are enhancing security measures” instead of “We are increasing surveillance.”
  • In a discussion about advertising tactics, someone might say, “Companies often use doublespeak to make their products sound more appealing than they actually are.”
  • A journalist might criticize a politician’s speech, saying, “The use of doublespeak in his statements makes it difficult to determine his true intentions.”

22. Fearmongering

Fearmongering is the act of deliberately spreading fear or panic among a group of people. It is often used as a tactic to manipulate public opinion or gain support for a particular agenda.

  • For instance, a news article might be accused of fearmongering when it exaggerates the potential dangers of a specific event or situation.
  • In a political campaign, a candidate might use fearmongering to convince voters that their opponent’s policies will lead to disastrous consequences.
  • A social media post might be criticized for fearmongering by spreading unfounded rumors or conspiracy theories.

23. Glittering generality

Glittering generality refers to a vague, positive-sounding phrase or slogan that is used to evoke strong emotions and create a positive image. It is often used in propaganda to sway public opinion without providing any concrete information or evidence.

  • For example, a political advertisement might use the phrase “Hope and change” to appeal to voters without specifying any actual policies or plans.
  • In a marketing campaign, a company might use a glittering generality like “The best in the business” to create a positive image without providing any supporting evidence.
  • A critic might point out the use of glittering generalities in a speech, saying, “The speaker relied on empty slogans instead of addressing the real issues.”

24. Sock puppet

A sock puppet is a fake online identity that is created and used by a person to deceive or manipulate others. It is often used in propaganda or online discussions to create the illusion of widespread support or agreement.

  • For instance, a company might create multiple sock puppet accounts to promote their products and praise their own brand.
  • In a political campaign, supporters might create sock puppet accounts to spread positive messages about their candidate or attack their opponent.
  • A social media user might be accused of using a sock puppet account when they consistently defend a particular viewpoint without providing any real evidence or personal information.

25. Straw man

A straw man is a rhetorical technique in which someone misrepresents or distorts an opponent’s argument in order to make it easier to attack or refute. It is often used in propaganda or debates to weaken the opposing side’s position.

  • For example, a politician might misrepresent their opponent’s stance on a particular issue and then argue against the distorted version.
  • In a discussion about a controversial topic, someone might accuse their opponent of using straw man arguments to avoid addressing the real issues.
  • A journalist might criticize a public figure for using straw man tactics to deflect criticism and avoid taking responsibility.
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26. Misdirection

Misdirection is a technique used in propaganda to divert attention away from the true issue or agenda. It involves manipulating information or creating a false narrative to shift focus.

  • For example, a politician might use misdirection by highlighting a minor issue to deflect attention from a major controversy.
  • In a debate, one debater might use misdirection by bringing up unrelated topics to avoid addressing the main argument.
  • A news outlet might employ misdirection by sensationalizing a less important story to draw attention away from more significant news.

27. Influence operation

An influence operation refers to a coordinated effort to shape or manipulate public opinion or behavior. It involves using various tactics, such as disinformation, social media manipulation, or psychological operations, to achieve a specific outcome.

  • For instance, a foreign government might launch an influence operation to sway public opinion in another country’s election.
  • A corporation might conduct an influence operation to promote its products through deceptive advertising.
  • A political campaign might employ an influence operation to discredit their opponents and gain an advantage.

28. White propaganda

White propaganda is a form of propaganda that is openly and officially disseminated by a government, organization, or institution. It is often presented as factual information or news, but it is crafted to promote a specific agenda or viewpoint.

  • For example, a government might use white propaganda to justify its actions or policies to the public.
  • An organization might employ white propaganda to promote its products or services through sponsored content.
  • During a conflict, a military might use white propaganda to boost morale and support for its cause.

29. Glittering generalities

Glittering generalities are vague and emotionally appealing words or phrases used in propaganda to evoke positive feelings or associations without providing concrete evidence or details.

  • For instance, a political candidate might use glittering generalities by promising “hope” and “change” without specifying their plans or policies.
  • A company might employ glittering generalities in advertising by using phrases like “the best” or “world-class” without providing specific evidence or comparisons.
  • A propaganda campaign might use glittering generalities to manipulate public opinion by appealing to patriotic or idealistic sentiments.

30. Card stacking

Card stacking is a propaganda technique that involves selectively presenting information or evidence to support a particular viewpoint while ignoring or downplaying contradictory evidence.

  • For example, a biased news outlet might engage in card stacking by only reporting facts or statistics that support a specific political agenda.
  • A company might use card stacking in advertising by highlighting positive testimonials or reviews while ignoring negative feedback.
  • A political campaign might employ card stacking by selectively quoting an opponent’s statements out of context to distort their views.

31. Transfer

This propaganda technique involves connecting a person, idea, or product with something positive or negative in order to evoke certain emotions or attitudes. It aims to transfer the feelings associated with one thing to another.

  • For example, a political ad might show a candidate shaking hands with a beloved community leader to transfer the leader’s popularity to the candidate.
  • A commercial for a luxury car might show images of a beautiful beach and lavish lifestyle to transfer the positive emotions associated with those scenes to the car.
  • A brand might use a famous athlete to endorse their product, hoping to transfer the athlete’s success and popularity to their brand.

32. Testimonial

This propaganda technique involves using the endorsement or support of a famous or respected person to promote a person, idea, or product. It aims to convince others to adopt the same beliefs or behaviors as the person giving the testimonial.

  • For instance, a celebrity might appear in a commercial, saying, “I love this product, and you will too!”
  • A politician might have a well-known figure endorse their campaign, saying, “I trust this candidate to lead us in the right direction.”
  • A company might use customer testimonials in their advertising to show real people who have had positive experiences with their product.

33. Plain folks

This propaganda technique involves portraying a person or group as being down-to-earth, ordinary, and just like the average person. It aims to create a sense of relatability and trustworthiness.

  • For example, a political candidate might be shown interacting with everyday people in their campaign advertisements to create the image of being a regular person.
  • A company might use images of families and ordinary individuals in their commercials to appeal to a wide audience.
  • A brand might use slogans like “Made for the everyday person” or “For people like you” to emphasize their relatability.

34. Name-calling

This propaganda technique involves using negative words or phrases to create an unfavorable image of a person, group, or idea. It aims to evoke strong emotions and manipulate public opinion by associating negative qualities with the target.

  • For instance, a political campaign might use derogatory terms to attack their opponent, such as calling them “corrupt” or “untrustworthy.”
  • In a debate, one person might resort to name-calling by using insults instead of addressing the actual arguments.
  • A company might use name-calling to discredit their competitors, using terms like “cheap knock-offs” or “inferior products.”

35. Fear mongering

This propaganda technique involves using fear or anxiety to manipulate public opinion and behavior. It aims to create a sense of urgency or danger in order to sway people’s opinions or actions.

  • For example, a political ad might depict a worst-case scenario if a certain candidate is elected, suggesting that voting for them would lead to disastrous consequences.
  • A commercial for a security system might use images of break-ins and burglaries to create fear and convince viewers to purchase their product.
  • A news article might exaggerate the risks of a particular health issue to generate fear and attract readers.

36. Scapegoating

This refers to the practice of blaming a person or group for a problem or issue, often without any evidence or justification. Scapegoating is a common propaganda tactic used to divert attention away from the real causes of a problem.

  • For instance, a politician might scapegoat immigrants for the country’s economic troubles.
  • In a heated debate, someone might accuse their opponent of scapegoating to avoid addressing the real issues.
  • A news article might criticize a government for scapegoating a minority group to distract from their own failings.

37. Thought-terminating cliché

This refers to a phrase or expression that is used to dismiss or stop critical thinking and discussion. Thought-terminating clichés are often used in propaganda to shut down opposing viewpoints and maintain control over the narrative.

  • For example, a politician might use the phrase “fake news” as a thought-terminating cliché to dismiss any negative press coverage.
  • In a debate, someone might use the cliché “just trust the experts” to avoid engaging with counterarguments.
  • A propaganda poster might feature a catchy slogan designed to stop people from questioning the message.
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38. Social proof

This refers to the psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions or beliefs of others in order to conform to social norms. In propaganda, social proof is used to create the perception that everyone else is doing or thinking a certain way, in order to encourage others to follow suit.

  • For instance, an advertisement might feature testimonials from satisfied customers to create social proof of the product’s effectiveness.
  • A political campaign might highlight the number of supporters to create the perception of social proof for their candidate.
  • A propaganda video might show footage of large crowds cheering to create the illusion of social proof for a particular cause.

39. Appeal to authority

This refers to the use of an authority figure or expert to support a claim or argument. In propaganda, an appeal to authority is used to lend credibility and convince others to accept a certain viewpoint.

  • For example, a commercial might feature a celebrity endorsing a product to appeal to authority and persuade people to buy it.
  • In a debate, someone might cite a study conducted by a renowned scientist to support their argument.
  • A propaganda poster might depict a respected figure making a statement to lend authority to a particular message.

40. Appeal to emotion

This refers to the use of emotions, such as fear, anger, or sympathy, to manipulate and influence people’s beliefs and actions. In propaganda, an appeal to emotion is used to bypass rational thinking and create an emotional response that supports a particular agenda.

  • For instance, a political ad might use images of violence and crime to appeal to people’s fear and convince them to support tougher law enforcement.
  • In a persuasive speech, someone might share a heart-wrenching personal story to appeal to people’s sympathy and gain their support.
  • A propaganda poster might use patriotic symbols and imagery to appeal to people’s sense of national pride and rally support for a cause.

41. Appeal to fear

This is a propaganda technique that aims to manipulate emotions by creating fear or anxiety in the audience. It involves presenting a threat or danger and suggesting that the only solution is to support a specific cause or take a particular action.

  • For example, a political ad might use an appeal to fear by showing images of violence and crime, implying that only a specific candidate can keep the public safe.
  • A company might use scare tactics in their advertising by highlighting the potential dangers of not using their product.
  • In a debate, a speaker might use an appeal to fear by exaggerating the consequences of not supporting their position.

42. Appeal to tradition

This propaganda technique relies on the idea that things should be done a certain way simply because they have been done that way in the past. It appeals to people’s desire for stability, familiarity, and a sense of belonging to a larger group.

  • For instance, a politician might argue that a certain policy should be maintained because it has been the tradition for many years.
  • A company might use an appeal to tradition in their advertising by emphasizing that their product has been trusted for generations.
  • In a debate, a speaker might use an appeal to tradition by arguing that a proposed change goes against long-standing cultural or societal norms.

43. Appeal to novelty

This propaganda technique relies on the idea that something is better simply because it is new or different. It appeals to people’s desire for novelty, excitement, and the idea of progress.

  • For example, a company might use an appeal to novelty in their advertising by promoting a new and improved version of their product.
  • A politician might use this technique by presenting themselves as a fresh face with new ideas and solutions.
  • In a debate, a speaker might use an appeal to novelty by arguing that a proposed change is necessary for progress and innovation.

44. Appeal to popularity

This propaganda technique relies on the idea that something is true or good simply because many people believe or support it. It appeals to people’s desire to fit in, be accepted, and follow the crowd.

  • For instance, a politician might use an appeal to popularity by highlighting the number of people who support their campaign.
  • A company might use this technique in their advertising by emphasizing that their product is the most popular choice among consumers.
  • In a debate, a speaker might use an appeal to popularity by arguing that their position is widely accepted and supported by the majority.

45. Appeal to ignorance

This propaganda technique relies on the idea that something is true simply because it has not been proven false, or false simply because it has not been proven true. It exploits people’s lack of knowledge or understanding about a particular subject.

  • For example, a politician might use an appeal to ignorance by making claims that cannot be disproven, such as “There is no evidence that aliens don’t exist, therefore they must exist.”
  • A company might use this technique in their advertising by making unsubstantiated claims about the effectiveness of their product.
  • In a debate, a speaker might use an appeal to ignorance by arguing that their opponent’s position is invalid because it has not been definitively proven.

46. Appeal to consequences

This is a propaganda technique that involves using the threat of negative consequences to persuade people to adopt a certain belief or take a specific action. It plays on people’s fears and emotions to manipulate their decision-making.

  • For example, a political campaign might use the appeal to consequences by saying, “If you don’t vote for our candidate, your taxes will skyrocket.”
  • In a debate, someone might use this tactic by saying, “If we don’t pass this law, crime rates will soar.”
  • A company might use the appeal to consequences in an advertisement by stating, “If you don’t buy our product, you’ll miss out on all the benefits and suffer the consequences.”

47. Appeal to nature

This propaganda technique involves using the idea that something is natural to justify its validity or superiority. It suggests that because something is “natural,” it is inherently good or right, without considering other factors or consequences.

  • For instance, a company might use the appeal to nature by saying, “Our product is made with all-natural ingredients, so it must be healthier.”
  • In a political argument, someone might use this tactic by stating, “Traditional marriage is the only natural form of union.”
  • An advertisement might use the appeal to nature by claiming, “Our clothing is made from natural fibers, so it’s better for the environment and your skin.”