Political catchphrase

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A political catchphrase is created when a political situation or political discourse is summarized in a particularly memorable word or phrase. Such terms can be an essential part of the respective political ideology . Buzzwords get a lot of echo in the press and in the short or long term are perceived as the central term for this discourse or as a symbol for the corresponding political situation. Anyone who shapes a term and brings it into conversation can initially have the authority to interpret it - whereby he himself participates in the struggle for interpretation authority and influences which expressions are disseminated as keywords. In the further course of the political discourse, however, the sovereignty of interpretation can be lost and the public perception of the catchphrase can change. Targeted attempts to consciously shape political keywords or phrases can also be part of a campaign .

Since the term “catchphrase” itself often has a negative connotation, the question of whether a certain term is a judgmental catchphrase or a “precise description” is sometimes itself a topic of political debate. From a semiotic point of view, however, a clear demarcation is not possible, since every understanding of language already includes an interpretive interpretation of the linguistic sign.

Political catchphrases that are instrumentalized for certain political purposes, particular interests or to set images of the enemy are also considered battle terms . If they serve the identity of a group, they are called flag words .


Some political catchphrases have the character of euphemisms like ethnic cleansing or of dysphemisms like killer games or angry citizens . Others are actually pseudo- technical terms , for example master race or early sexualization .

Examples of concise political catchphrases are progress since the 19th century during the industrial revolution , Finlandization , dominant culture , forced Germanization , Agenda 2010 , the electoral slogan of Alfred Dregger for the CDU: freedom instead of socialism , the axis of evil postulated by the Bush administration or Rogue state . A political slogan in the early years of the Kohl government was the spiritual and moral turn . In certain contexts, the technical term neoliberalism also took on the character of a political catchphrase.


  • Gerhard Strauss, Ulrike Haß, Gisela Harms: Controversial words from agitation to zeitgeist. A lexicon for public usage. de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1989, ISBN 3-11-012078-X (=  publications of the Institute for German Language ; in the foreword p. 32–38 "Keywords in politics: flag, battle and enemy words" are dealt with, in the text many keywords are characterized accordingly).

Web links

Wiktionary: Keyword  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. Frank Nullmeier: Social justice - a political “battle concept”? In: Sozialwissenschaftlicher Fachinformationsdienst soFid (2009), Allgemeine Soziologie 2010/1, pp. 9-16. and Alexander Häusler: Topics of the Right. In: Handbook of right-wing extremism. Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden 2016, pp. 135–180, here: 136f.
  2. The homicide argument. ( Memento from July 6, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) In: Süddeutsche Zeitung
  3. The word as a weapon. In: FAZ
  4. ^ Taylor C. Boss, Jordan Gans-Morse: Neoliberalism: From New Liberal Philosophy to Anti-Liberal Slogan. In: Comparative International Development , Volume 44 Number 2. ISSN  0039-3606