Word of the Day Archive
Tuesday July 25, 2006
plebeian \plih-BEE-uhn\ , adjective:
1. Of or pertaining to the Roman plebs, or common people.
2. Of or pertaining to the common people.
3. Vulgar; common; crude or coarse in nature or manner.
1. One of the plebs, or common people of ancient Rome; opposed to patrician.
2. One of the common people or lower classes.
3. A coarse, crude, or vulgar person.
He was unashamed of his plebeian roots but keen to provide himself with aristocratic forebears.
-- Graham Robb, Victor Hugo
During the Soviet era, anyone of any ethnic background who did the dirty deeds demanded of them to get ahead was rewarded with a crummy but better-than-average apartment, a steady supply of cheap sausage and low-grade vodka, and a host of other plebeian amenities too dull to talk about here.
-- Jeffrey Tayler, "Russia's Other World, interview by Toby Lester", The Atlantic, March 10, 1999
For cultivated Germans, politics was associated with grasping, greedy, plebeian men, out for their own selfish interests instead of the larger good of the nation.
-- Ian Buruma, "The Tin Ear", New Republic, January 31, 2000
Very generally, American public men before Lincoln had grown up in the environment of slave and free, master and servant, employer and employee, rich and poor, aristocrat and plebeian.
-- Arthur E. Morgan, "New Light on Lincoln's Boyhood", The Atlantic, February 1920
Plebeian is from Latin plebeius, from plebs, plebis, "the common people."