||[Jun. 18th, 2008|11:27 pm]
Historical Origins of English Words and Phrases
propaganda, n. [prop-uh-gan-duh, prŏp-ə-gāndə]
-This word started out as part of a New Latin phrase used in the Catholic Church: Congregatio de Propaganda Fide 'Congregation for Propagation of the Faith.' This group was founded in 1622 C.E. by Pope Gregory XV and was a committee of cardinals put in charge of foreign missions to spread the Catholic faith. New Latin's propaganda is an ablative feminine gerundive construction of Latin propagare 'to propagate.' Italian was the first language to shorten the committee's name to simply Propaganda, and by 1718 it had spread to English. The first change in its connotation is seen during World War I when propaganda was used to describe political doctrine spread by a government or party, though it was not necessarily a negative thing at the time. After several decades of use during the 20th century, propaganda still carries both the religious and political definitions, though it often is used with a negative sense of 'biased information.'