"Sheeple” (sheep + people) are people who blindly follow political, business or religious leaders, “like sheep to the slaughter.” The term “sheeple” seems to have been invented independently in the 1960s and 1970s, appearing in national publications in 1983-84.
A “sheeple” joke can be made that politicians “pull the wool over people’s eyes.” “Sheepletard” (sheeple + retard) has been cited in print since at least 2007. “Shitizen” (shit + citizen) is often used the same way as “sheeple.”
Sheeple is a term of disparagement, in which people are likened to sheep. The term is believed to be inspired by the 1945 George Orwell novel Animal Farm, where the sheep of the farm blindly followed and defended the farm’s pig leadership.
It is often used to denote persons who voluntarily acquiesce to a perceived authority, or suggestion without sufficient research to understand fully the scope of the ramifications involved in that decision, and thus undermine their own human individuality or in other cases give up certain rights. The implication of sheeple is that as a collective, people believe whatever they are told, especially if told so by a perceived authority figure believed to be trustworthy, without processing it or doing adequate research to be sure that it is an accurate representation of the real world around them. The term is generally used in a political and sometimes in a spiritual sense.
The label seems to have originated in the United States and refers to people who tend to accept and follow everything at face value, especially if it is cited in mainstream media. Shortwave radio host Milton William Cooper used it commonly during his Hour of the Time radio show during the late 80s and early 90s. There is documented print usage of this word as early as 1950, in the form, “We, the Sheeple”, in the Emory University Quarterly, v.6-7 1950-1951, page 64. The Wall Street Journal first reported the label in print in 1984; the reporter heard the word used by the proprietor of an American Opinion bookstore affiliated with the John Birch Society. In this usage, taxpayers were derided for their blind conformity as opposed to those who thought independently.
The term is also used more broadly to describe any person a speaker feels is exceedingly conformist.
The term is also used for those who are inordinately tolerant, or welcome government intrusion and regulation. 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.” This usage emphasizes that Americans sheepishly accept all sorts of imposed official nonsense. It describes those who blindly submit to the judgement of public servants or political parties as leading authorities, ignoring the reality that it is the individuals composing the body politic that empower the civil government through their acquiescence.
. In the South Park episode “Mystery of the Urinal Deuce”, a satire of 9/11 conspiracy theories, George W. Bush refers to the American people as “sheeple”.
. Former Canadian MP Garth Turner authored a book called Sheeple, about his second time in Commons.
. Radio host Michael Savage claimed on his radio show The Savage Nation that he had coined the term sheeple.
February 3, 2006 Urban Word of the Day
People unable to think for themselves. Followers. Lemmings. Those with no cognitive ablilities of their own.
All the teens were wearing bell-bottoms because they were sheeple.
by Naegling Oct 2, 2003
(SHEE.pul) n. People who are meek, easily persuaded, and tend to follow the crowd (sheep + people).
This is the home of Barbara Anderson and the headquarters of her American Opinion Bookstore. The store, in a dusty room behind dusty curtains near her front door, stocks about 500 right-wing tracts ("The Church Deceived,” “None Dare Call Conspiracy"). Mrs. Anderson begins every book sale with a lecture, and in this instance she derides taxpayers in general as submissive “sheep people” — or “sheeple” for short.
—Bob Davis, “In New Hampshire, ‘Live Free or Die’ Is More Than a Motto,” The Wall Street Journal, February 27, 1984
Emory University Quarterly
v. 6-7 - 1950
But he is best when writing about his fellow man, in selections like “We, the Sheeple.”
The Bible 2.0
By Nathan Smithe
People will want the leaders to do something. but the leaders will be like, “People, more like Sheeple. Mhwahahahahahah.”
20 January 1974, Winona (MN) Daily News, pg. 7A, col. 3:
back into people
Too many sheeple, not enough people. Isn’t this what Alexandr Solzhenitsyn is saying about his fellow Russians when he calls them a generation of cowards.
17 December 1974, Winona (MN) Daily News, ‘The many signs of better times” by Ellery Foster, pg. 7A, col. 1:
PEOPLE SO hooked on sex that they keep bringing more people into the world before those already born are either decently cared for or caring. Sheeple working at things they can’t possibly believe in, for money to spend on things they don’t need.
10 February 1977, Winona (MN) Daily News, “On self-sentencing—after our death” by Georgia Stone, pg. 6A, col. 3:
A man rose. “I was John Maynard Keynes,” he said. I advised governments to use massive manipulations of concentrated power as the way to help the people. I sold Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the British government also on the idea. Now that I’ve been using the other half of my brain, I see that was all a big mistake. It changed the masses of the people into sheeple, and gave politicians horribly inflated egos.”
21 February 1983, Miami (FL) Herald, “‘Patriots’ Push for Tax Revolt,” pg. 1D:
To understand the American Patriots Association, you have to speak the language. Taxpayers are “sheeple,” short for sheeplike people. Bureaucrats are “bureau-rats.” Internal Revenue Service agents are “tyrants and despots.” Dollar bills are “Ferns,” which stands for Federal Reserve Notes (FRNS). “Ferns” aren’t worth a plug nickel.
The Least Imperfect Path:
A Global Journal for the Future
By John Duane Ivanko
Royal Oak, MI: Paradigm Press
A friend once told me about “sheeple,” a term I adapted to explain how the majority of each society around the world seemingly “choose” to live within the general, established constructs of a mainstream culture—following the norms and status quo like sheep.
OCLC WorldCat record
Sheeple : caucus confidential in Stephen Harper’s Ottawa
Author: Garth Turner
Publisher: Toronto : Key Porter Books, ©2009.
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Wednesday, December 30, 2009 • Permalink