Definitions

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

  • n. The class of industrial wage earners who, possessing neither capital nor production means, must earn their living by selling their labor.
  • n. The poorest class of working people.
  • n. The propertyless class of ancient Rome, constituting the lowest class of citizens.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The working class or lower class.
  • n. The wage earners collectively, excluding salaried workers.
  • n. In ancient Rome, the lowest class of citizens, who had no property.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The indigent class in the State; the body of proletarians.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Same as proletariate.

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

  • n. a social class comprising those who do manual labor or work for wages

Etymologies

French prolétariat, from Latin prōlētārius, belonging to the lowest class of Roman citizens; see proletarian.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French prolétariat, from Latin proletarius ("a man whose only wealth is his offspring, or whose sole service to the state is as father"), from proles ("offspring, posterity") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In Russia, where the proletariat is armed, the proletariat becomes the only real influential body.

    Six Red Months in Russia: An Observer's Account of Russia Before and During the Proletarian Dictatorship

  • By 'proletariat' is meant the class of people without capital which sells its labor for a living.

    The Class Struggle

  • Our strength, the strength of the proletariat, is in our muscles, in our hands to cast ballots, in our fingers to pull triggers.

    Chapter 9: The Mathematics of a Dream

  • Yes I do like the humour of throwing the word proletariat at Labour MP's who have sold out and whored away all the last vestiges of socialism.

    Archive 2008-07-01

  • Clearly I have major “competition”: the entire German-Jewish intellectual proletariat is assembled here.

    Balkinization

  • Later, the importance of the proletariat is shown when Boxer suddenly falls and there is suddenly a drastic decrease in work productivity.

    Animal Farm Character Profiles

  • The proletariat is also quite good at convincing each other that communism is a good idea.

    Animal Farm Character Profiles

  • Nevertheless it is perfectly safe to say that in the larger towns, where the higher-priced drama coexists with the motion-picture plays, the line of cleavage is sharply drawn in the character of the audience, and this line is the same line which marks the proletariat from the bourgeoisieand capitalist class.

    Class-Consciousness and the 'Movies'

  • In practically shutting off the proletariat from the spoken drama, as we are doing (our New England city of 35,000 showed a proletariat of at least 20,000 who would not or did not attend the legitimate playhouse), and throwing them back on an exclusive amusement diet of motion pictures, what are we doing to them?

    Class-Consciousness and the 'Movies'

  • From the Syndicalist's point of view, then, surely, the movies should be regarded as a blessing, as an aid in the growth of class-consciousness, for they are rapidly segregating the theatrical amusement of the proletariat from the theatrical amusement of the master class, and drawing the line of social cleavage more and more sharply.

    Class-Consciousness and the 'Movies'

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.