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Bolshevik

[bohl-shuh-vik, bol-; Russian buh l-shi-vyeek] /ˈboʊl ʃə vɪk, ˈbɒl-; Russian bəl ʃɪˈvyik/
noun, plural Bolsheviks, Bolsheviki
[bohl-shuh-vik-ee, -vee-kee; Russian buh l-shi-vyi-kyee] /ˈboʊl ʃəˌvɪk i, -ˌvi ki; Russian bəl ʃɪ vyɪˈkyi/ (Show IPA)
1.
  1. a member of the more radical majority of the Social Democratic Party, 1903–17, advocating immediate and forceful seizure of power by the proletariat.
  2. (after 1918) a member of the Russian Communist Party.
2.
(loosely) a member of any Communist party.
3.
Disparaging. an extreme political radical; revolutionary or anarchist.
Also, bolshevik.
Origin
1915-1920
1915-20; < Russian bolʾshevík, equivalent to bólʾsh() larger, greater (comparative of bolʾshóĭ large; compare bolʾshinstvó majority) + -evik, variant of -ovik noun suffix; cf. Menshevik
Related forms
anti-Bolshevik, noun, adjective
non-Bolshevik, noun
pro-Bolshevik, adjective, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for bolsheviks

Bolshevik

/ˈbɒlʃɪvɪk/
noun (pl) -viks, -viki (-ˈviːkɪ)
1.
(formerly) a Russian Communist Compare Menshevik
2.
any Communist
3.
(often not capital) (jocular, derogatory) any political radical, esp a revolutionary
Derived Forms
Bolshevism, noun
Bolshevist, adjective, noun
Bolshevistic, adjective
Word Origin
C20: from Russian Bol'shevik majority, from bol'shoi great; from the fact that this group formed a majority of the Russian Social Democratic Party in 1903
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bolsheviks

Bolshevik

n.

1917, from Russian bol'shiy "greater," comparative of adjective bol'shoy "big, great" (cf. Bolshoi Ballet), from Old Church Slavonic boljiji "larger," from PIE root *bel- "strong" (cf. Sanskrit balam "strength, force," Greek beltion "better," Phrygian balaios "big, fast," Old Irish odbal "strong," Welsh balch "proud;" Middle Dutch, Low German, Frisian pal "strong, firm").

It was the faction of the Russian Social Democratic Worker's Party after a split in 1903 that was either larger or more extreme (or both) than the Mensheviks (from Russian men'shij "less"); after they seized power in 1917, applied generally to Russian communists. Bolshevism is recorded from 1917.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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bolsheviks in Culture
Bolsheviks [(bohl-shuh-viks, bol-shuh-viks)]

The radicals in the Russian Revolution, who were led by Lenin and who favored revolution rather than gradual democratic change.

Note: Bolshevik has been used as a general term for a radical leftist or for a communist of the Soviet Union.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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