Definitions

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

  • n. A person who has suddenly risen to a higher social and economic class and has not yet gained social acceptance by others in that class.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person who has risen, climbed up, or has been promoted to a higher social class, especially through acquisition of wealth, rights, or political authority but has not gained social acceptance by those within that new class.
  • adj. this sense?) Being a parvenu; also, like or having the characteristics of a parvenu.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An upstart; a man newly risen into notice.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One newly risen into notice, especially by an accident of fortune and beyond his birth or apparent deserts, whether as a claimant for a place in society or as occupying a position of authority; an upstart.
  • Like or characteristic of a parvenu or upstart.

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

  • n. a person who has suddenly risen to a higher economic status but has not gained social acceptance of others in that class
  • adj. characteristic of someone who has risen economically or socially but lacks the social skills appropriate for this new position
  • adj. of or characteristic of a parvenu

Etymologies

French, from past participle of parvenir, to arrive, from Latin pervenīre : per, through; see per1 in Indo-European roots + venīre, to come; see gwā- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French parvenu, from French parvenir, from Latin perveniō ("arrive, reach"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The defense that they are merely copying the American parvenu is no justification.

    The Social Disability of the Jew

  • Mlle. de Montijo, used the very word "parvenu" in speaking of himself and of his family.

    Famous Affinities of History — Complete

  • Waizero Terunish was proud; she always looked on her husband as a "parvenu," and took no pains to hide from him her want of respect and affection.

    Narrative of Captivity in Abyssinia with Some Account of the Late Emperor the Late Emperor Theodore, His Country and People

  • The house had been purchased during the Terror by the father of Mlle. Gamard, a dealer in wood, a kind of parvenu peasant.

    Repertory of the Comedie Humaine Part 1

  • It is true they made their morning calls, and invited the former Viscountess de Beauharnais, with her daughter, to their evening receptions; but they carefully avoided being present at the evening circles of Madame Bonaparte, where their exclusiveness was beset with the danger of coming in contact with some "parvenu," or with some sprig of the army, or of the financial bureaus.

    Empress Josephine An historical sketch of the days of Napoleon

  • None was touched with that feigned agony which had too often deceived the public hope; and distance nowhere prevented the weight of the dreaded 'parvenu' from being felt.

    Cinq Mars — Complete

  • You would have sworn he had been a 'parvenu' of yesterday, yet he had been all his life in good society.

    The Works of Lord Byron: Letters and Journals. Vol. 2

  • Not content with such a spectacular windfall, the caddish Chan - the kind of parvenu, incidentally, who names his eldest son Wealthee - considers himself entitled the rest of her estate, even though he would be depriving a charity of its use, should he win control of it.

    TIME.com: Top Stories

  • "Well," said Levy, with great kindness of manner, "I see I pain you; and though I am what my very pleasant guests would call a parvenu,

    My Novel — Complete

  • On the train, going back to college, ten days later, this regret (though it was as much an annoyance as a regret) recurred to his mind, and a feeling developed within him that the new quarter of the cemetery was in bad taste -- not architecturally or sculpturally perhaps, but in presumption: it seemed to flaunt a kind of parvenu ignorance, as if it were actually pleased to be unaware that all the aristocratic and really important families were buried the old section.

    The Magnificent Ambersons; illustrated by Arthur William Brown

Comments

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  • Wharton! oh goody!

    September 19, 2009

  • "Only old Catherine Mingott, with her absence of moral prejudices and almost parvenu indifference to the subtler distinctions, might have bridged the abyss; but she had never opened a book or looked at a picture, and cared for music only because it reminded her of gala nights at the Italiens, in the days of her triumph at the Tuileries."
    - Edith Wharton, 'The Age of Innocence'.

    September 19, 2009

  • a nouveau riche?

    March 23, 2009