Definition of proletariat in English:


(also proletariate)


  • 1treated as singular or plural Working-class people regarded collectively (often used with reference to Marxism)

    ‘the growth of the industrial proletariat’
    • ‘Lenin proposed that the new regime would be a ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry.’’
    • ‘What relevance, then, could Marxism, a movement of the urban proletariat, have for the political development of Russia?’
    • ‘It was Gandhi's first experience with India's industrial proletariat.’
    • ‘Is it necessary for the peasant classes of agricultural nations to become urban or rural (if such a thing is possible) proletariats before a Socialist Revolution is possible?’
    • ‘The dictatorship of the proletariat was key to Marx.’
    • ‘She grew up as a member of this oppressed proletariat that Marx and Engels wrote about.’
    • ‘His idea was to take the city to the village, so a working class, a proletariat, began to be born in the villages.’
    • ‘It is, in fact, a larger and more diverse section of the population than the old industrial proletariat of the middle of the last century.’
    • ‘I want to know more about why the working class or the proletariat is the decisive factor in this fight.’
    • ‘As learned and experienced bargainers, thanks to months on the road, we calmly explained that we were students (and proletariats ourselves) and simply could not afford the 1000 rupees, which was true.’
    • ‘Today, strawberries are grown in all 50 states and enjoyed by people in all walks of life - presidents and proletariats alike.’
    • ‘The industrial proletariat was the first to rally around it.’
    • ‘Political art consisted in fusing the petty bourgeoisie into oneness through its common hostility to the proletariat.’
    • ‘These American farmers were not, then, in the classic Marxist formulation, expropriating the surplus value of a proletariat.’
    • ‘In capitalist society, the main axis of conflict is between the bourgeoisie (the capitalist) and proletariat (the workers).’
    • ‘The dominance of industrial capitalism nurtured an urban proletariat, in large measure drawn from the mass immigration from southern and eastern Europe.’
    • ‘The catastrophe into which the world has thrust the socialist proletariat is an unexampled misfortune for humanity.’
    • ‘The working class, or proletariat, is not defined by the type of labour it performs, but by its relationship to the means of production.’
    • ‘Human history has remained the chronology of struggles between master and servant, have and have nots, between capitalists and proletariats, exploiter and exploited.’
    • ‘That is to say, the revolutionary hymn that called the proletariats of the world to unite is now anti-revolutionary in the harmonious society.’
    the workers, working-class people, wage-earners, the labouring classes, the common people, the ordinary people, the lower classes, the masses, the commonalty, the rank and file, the third estate, the plebeians
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The lowest class of citizens in ancient Rome.
      • ‘Many flocked to Rome, where they joined the proletariat of propertyless citizens dependent on handouts of free wheat by the state.’
      • ‘In a similar vein, Champlin argues that celebrations like the banquet of Tigellinus and the canal from Lake Avernus to the Tiber were intended to bring the upper-class delights of Baiae to the urban proletariate of Rome.’


Mid 19th century: from French prolétariat, from Latin proletarius (see proletarian).