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[proh-li-tair-ee-uh t] /ˌproʊ lɪˈtɛər i ət/
the class of wage earners, especially those who earn their living by manual labor or who are dependent for support on daily or casual employment; the working class.
(in Marxist theory) the class of workers, especially industrial wage earners, who do not possess capital or property and must sell their labor to survive.
the lowest or poorest class of people, possessing no property, especially in ancient Rome.
Origin of proletariat
1850-55; < French prolétariat; see proletary, -ate3
Related forms
nonproletariat, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for proletariat
  • Meanwhile, other members of the proletariat were encouraged to occupy the homes of the wealthy.
  • Or they can clamp down, clean up, and face the double short-term risk of a stalled economy and a wrathful proletariat.
  • They could bribe the town proletariat with their leavings, but the peasants became their enemies.
  • But this led to a rise in prices that fostered discontent among the urban proletariat.
  • Technocracy was once a communist idea: with the proletariat in power, administration could be left to experts.
  • The real proletariat are suffering in both dispensations.
  • Only recently has the proletariat expected to be able to identify with their leaders.
  • The view from behind the wheel is as proletariat as it gets: no frills, no flash, no real driving engagement.
  • Asteroids have always been the proletariat of the solar system.
  • Luckily, the growth of the craft-beer industry has spurred the proletariat-friendly beer tour.
British Dictionary definitions for proletariat


all wage-earners collectively
the lower or working class
(in Marxist theory) the class of wage-earners, esp industrial workers, in a capitalist society, whose only possession of significant material value is their labour
(in ancient Rome) the lowest class of citizens, who had no property
Word Origin
C19: via French from Latin prōlētāriusproletarian
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 proletariat

also proletariate, "the lowest class," 1853, from French prolétariat, from Latin proletarius (see proletarian). In political economics, "indigent wage-earners," from 1856. Leninist phrase dictatorship of the proletariat attested from 1918.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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proletariat in Culture
proletariat [(proh-luh-tair-ee-uht)]

In Marxism, the industrial working class, people without property.

proletariat [(proh-luh-tair-ee-uht)]

A term often applied to industrial workers, particularly by followers of Karl Marx.

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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