Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A first-year student at the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Naval Academy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a first year student at a US military academy; a cadet
  • n. common person

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The common people; the mob.
  • n. A member of the lowest class in the military academy at West Point; also, a freshman at any military or naval academy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. 1. The common people; the populace; plebs; plebeians.
  • n. A member of the lowest class in the United States naval and military academies; a freshman.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a military trainee (as at a military academy)

Etymologies

Probably short for plebeian.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

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  • He was on the staff of two Ohio governors in the eighteen-nineties; he was secretary to a Columbus mayor, who gave him an enormous brass key to the city, which I envied; around the turn of the century he went to West Point with a Congressional committee that was investigating the death of a plebe whose hazing had consisted of drinking the entire contents of a bottle of tabasco sauce.
    —James Thurber, 1952, 'Gentleman from Indiana', in The Thurber Album

    July 14, 2008