Is there a term for a word like Democratic in Democratic People's Republic of Korea?

The key point here is that the word is being used precisely because it's false.

It has something in common with a fiat, but that, I think, is a declaration of something in an attempt to make it true, whereas here it's presumably in order to convince people it's true.

The best I can come up with is propaganda, but that seems too specific somehow.

Is there a better term?

  • you could parody it with "Demonistic ..." perhaps? Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 10:16
  • Saying doesn't make it so.
    – bib
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 11:51

2 Answers 2


'Oxymoronic' comes to mind. Or you could say, 'the incongruously named Democratic People's Republic..."


The same goes for Republic:

A republic is a form of government in which power resides in the people, and the government is ruled by elected leaders run according to law, rather than inherited or appointed (such as through inheritance or divine mandate).

RationalWiki says of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea:

The country's official name (DPRK) is anything but accurate. Amusingly enough, the definition of the word "democratic" according to the Oxford English Dictionary is "a system of government by the whole population of a state," and the definition of "republic" is "a state in which supreme power is held by the people," meaning that North Korea's full name means "People-ruled People's People-ruled State of Korea." In reality, North Korea is neither a democracy nor a republic: it is a full-on dictatorship — specifically, an absolute hereditary monarchy.

The choice of name is to display a sense of legitimacy, so could be termed something like a faux-legitimising name.

  • You should never cite RationalWiki as a source...
    – Milliarde
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 16:40
  • @Milliarde89: Why not? Do you disagree with the quoted part?
    – Hugo
    Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 6:44

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