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.

1850–55; < French prolétariat; see proletary, -ate3

nonproletariat, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
proletariat (ˌprəʊlɪˈtɛərɪət)
1.  all wage-earners collectively
2.  the lower or working class
3.  (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
4.  (in ancient Rome) the lowest class of citizens, who had no property
[C19: via French from Latin prōlētāriusproletarian]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1853, from Fr. prolétariat, from L. proletarius (see proletarian). Back formation prole is attested from 1887; popularized by George Orwell's 1949 novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
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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Example sentences
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
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