Propaganda: Definition and Useful Examples in Spoken & Written Language

Last Updated on April 10, 2021

Propaganda is something that is used all the time, and we may not even notice it-but that is the idea. It may seem like a concept which is difficult to understand but once you have a grasp on what it is, it becomes much more simple.

In this article, we are going to take a look at the meaning of propaganda and how it is used in both spoken and written language. This will make it much more easy for you to understand and use in your own speaking and writing.

What Is Propaganda?

Propaganda is essentially a way of encouraging an audience into believing or thinking a certain thought which the speaker or writer wishes them to believe. It is usually a sentence, paragraph or general idea which does not display the correct facts, or perhaps omits information in order to have the desired effect.

Good propaganda usually features language which will speak to the emotional part of thought rather than the practical part and this further helps to draw the audience in and get them believing whatever the speaker or writer wishes.

Propaganda is often used in politics in order to get voters onside or to encourage people to take on the beliefs of the political party. It can be presented in a huge variety of ways from cartoons and posters to newspaper articles, artwork and speeches. In this modern day and age, propaganda is often shown through social media posts and online advertisements to reach the new generation.

Propaganda Examples

Examples of Propaganda In Spoken Language

As we mentioned, propaganda can be used in a spoken sense, whether that is through a speech, a new report, a TV show or many other means. In this section, we are going to look at some examples of times where propaganda has been used in spoken language.

  • In a speech by JFK, he uses propaganda to encourage the people of the United States that if they put the first man on the moon, they will have won a war, He uses persuasive language such as “if we are going to win this battle which is currently ongoing between tyranny and freedom” and “it holds the key to the future here on this planet.”
  • Former British prime minister, Tony Blair used propaganda in a speech he made in the 1990’s in which he tried to persuade people to get on board with his beliefs surrounding the Iraq war. He frequently refers to the word freedom which is a very encouraging word to use as well as saying the following passage; “the very nature of the global threat that we are facing in the UK and worldwide is very real and it is our responsibility as leaders to expose it and tackle it no matter what the cost.”
  • In the Nobel lecture by Barrack Obama, he frequently uses propaganda in order to convince the listeners that he is deserving of a Nobel peace prize due to his assistance in fighting two wars.
  • A catchphrase or a slogan used in advertising is propaganda as when it is heard over and over again, the audience begins to believe it. A good example of this is the British TV advert for Calgon washing machine tablets, the slogan is “washing machines live longer with Calgon” and after repeated exposure, the audience believes that this is the truth.

Examples of Propaganda In Written Language

As well as being used in a spoken form, propaganda can be used as a literary device in order to get the reader on board with an idea or concept. We are now going to explore some examples of when this has occurred.

  • An image of a painting which shows a boy at the grave of his mother was used in a new article during the Bosnian war in the 1990’s and was edited to look like a photograph. It was accompanied by the headline ‘a painful reminder’ which served as a way to keep people on the ‘side of good.’
  • In ‘The Lord Of The Flies‘ written by William Golding, propaganda is used when a character refers to a deceased pilot on a mountain as the ‘beast’ therefore discouraging the boys to go up there.
  • Propaganda was used somewhat exhaustively in the second world war, and a great example of this was the posters featuring Uncle Sam pointing his finger and saying “we want you!” This was a way of calling citizens to action to help their country by making them feel like¬†they¬†could make a difference.
  • In world war 1 a poster of a father with his children was created with the line “what did YOU do in the war, daddy?” This was a way to encourage men with children to enlist in the army and help in the war. It would appeal to them as they would not want to have to tell their children that they did nothing and this was a major push for many men, and so successful propaganda.
  • Another poster was designed to stop people from taking part in child labour and features a man with lots of money whilst children work on the looms. The caption for the image was about being a time thief and taking playtime away from children. This is a prime example of appealing to the human beings emotional side.
  • An advertisement to tell people to quit smoking used a pixelated image of the lungs, similar to the video game Pong and then used a cigarette to bat away pixels. This gives the impression that if it continues, the lungs will be completely eradicated.


Whilst propaganda now has quite a malicious reputation, it hasn’t always been that way, with its initial intention being more good than bad. However, with how it has been used in various situations it is now sometimes seen with caution.

It can be used in both spoken and written language in order to sway the listener or reader into a certain mindset, and as we have seen has been used in both ways greatly throughout history.

Propaganda Infographic


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