Sheeple (a portmanteau of "sheep" and "people") is a derogatory term that highlights the passive herd behavior of people easily controlled by a governing power which likens them to sheep, a herd animal that is easily led about. The term is used to describe those who voluntarily acquiesce to a suggestion without critical analysis or research in large part because the majority of others possess a similar mindset. Word Spy defines it as "people who are meek, easily persuaded, and tend to follow the crowd (sheep + people)."
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.
The term can also be used for those who seem inordinately tolerant, or welcoming, of what can be perceived as governmental 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."