hoi polloi

hoi polloi

[hoi puh-loi]
noun
the common people; the masses (often preceded by the ).

Origin:
1815–25; < Greek: the many

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World English Dictionary
hoi polloi (ˌhɔɪ pəˈlɔɪ)
 
pl n
derogatory often the masses; common people
 
[Greek, literally: the many]

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

hoi polloi
1837, from Gk. hoi polloi (pl.) "the people," lit. "the many" (pl. of polys). Used in Gk. by Dryden (1668) and Byron (1822), in both cases preceded by the, even though Gk. hoi means "the," a mistake repeated often by subsequent writers, who at least have the excuse of ignorance of Gk.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
hoi polloi [(hoy puh-loy)]

The masses, the ordinary folk; the phrase is often used in a derogatory way to refer to a popular preference or incorrect opinion: “The hoi polloi may think that Fitzgerald is a great director, but those who know about film realize that his work is commercial and derivative.” From Greek, meaning “the many.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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