Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

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

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Same as proletariate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[French prolétariat, from Latin prōlētārius, belonging to the lowest class of Roman citizens; see proletarian.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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")

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