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

  • n. The common people; the masses.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The common people; the masses. (Used with or without the definite article.)
  • n. The elite (hoi oligoi).

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

  • n. the common people generally


Greek, the many : hoi, nominative pl. of ho, the; see so- in Indo-European roots + polloi, nominative pl. of polus, many; see pelə-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek οἱ (hoi, "the (plural)"), and πολλοί (polloi, "many"). (Wiktionary)


Sorry, no example sentences found.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Gk hoi (οἵ, masc. pl.) = the article "the;" Ionic Gk pοllοί (πολλοί, masc. pl. adjective) = many. Hoi polloi = the many, the majority, the masses, the plebes.

    June 23, 2012

  • Applauds bilby [working the unworkable] The construction bilby describes is also known as tmesis.

    September 19, 2011

  • Infixes tend to be used by English speakers for dramatic effect or sarcasm; the only non-marked use I can think of right now is with nicknames.
    James 'Catfish' Hunter

    hoi horny polloi doesn't really work for me in a general sense. It might work in some kind of ironic context:
    night lights ahoy!
    hourgirls thread their cheap time among
    shore-leave sailors, lewdly anonymous tourists and the
    hoi horny polloi...

    September 19, 2011

  • OK, I'm busted for my mistaken understanding that hoi polloi referred to the rich upper classes. Would it be OK to insert adjectives e.g. "hoi horny polloi" to describe "the horny masses." I was wondering; just a thought.

    September 19, 2011

  • Our lordly style
    You shall not quench
    With base canaille!
    (That word is French.)
    Distinction ebbs
    Before a herd
    Of vulgar plebs!
    (A Latin word.)
    ’Twould fill with joy,
    And madness stark
    The oί πoλλoί!
    (A Greek remark.)
    One Latin word, one Greek remark,
    And one that’s French.

    - Iolanthe, Gilbert & Sullivan

    March 29, 2010

  • Definitely a favourite of mine. Hoi=ohoy and pollo=chicken. Chickens, hello! Perfect.. in my inner dictionary. The languages I refer to are Finnish and Italian. But you probably knew that. (Ohoi is pirate language in Finnish.)

    February 28, 2009

  • the general populace. masses.

    March 2, 2008