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Sheeple (a portmanteau of "sheep" and "people") is a derogatory term that highlights the herd behavior of people by likening them to sheep, a herd animal. The term is used to describe those who voluntarily acquiesce to a suggestion without critical analysis or research.

Usage defines sheeple as informal: "people who tend to follow the majority in matters of opinion, taste, etc"; a combination of "sheep" and "people".[1] Word Spy defines it as "people who are meek, easily persuaded, and tend to follow the crowd (sheep + people)."[2]

Example citation: The label originated in the United States, and designates people who tend to accept and take statements at face value, especially if it is cited in mainstream media or religion.[citation needed] The Wall Street Journal first reported the label in print in 1984; the reporter heard the word used by the proprietor of the American Opinion bookstore.[3] Shortwave radio host Milton William Cooper used the term commonly during his Hour of the Time radio show during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The label has been used by authors of fiction: as a title for Canada's ex-MP Garth Turner's 2009 book, also in numerous other works.[citation needed]

The term is also used more broadly to describe any exceedingly conformist person.[citation needed]


The term can also be used for those who seem inordinately tolerant, or welcoming, of what can be perceived by the speaker as government overreach. In a column entitled "A Nation of Sheeple", columnist Walter E. Williams writes, "Americans sheepishly accepted all sorts of Transportation Security Administration nonsense. In the name of security, we've allowed fingernail clippers, eyeglass screwdrivers, and toy soldiers to be taken from us prior to boarding a plane."[4]

See also


  1. ^ Sheeple
  2. ^ Sheeple
  3. ^ Bob Davis, "In New Hampshire, 'Live Free or Die' Is More Than a Motto," The Wall Street Journal, 1984, quoted online at Word Spy
  4. ^ "A Nation of Sheeple", Capitalism Magazine, October 19, 2005.

External links