Definition of proletariat in English:


(also proletariate)


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

    ‘the growth of the industrial proletariat’
    • ‘Today, strawberries are grown in all 50 states and enjoyed by people in all walks of life - presidents and proletariats alike.’
    • ‘The working class, or proletariat, is not defined by the type of labour it performs, but by its relationship to the means of production.’
    • ‘The dominance of industrial capitalism nurtured an urban proletariat, in large measure drawn from the mass immigration from southern and eastern Europe.’
    • ‘His idea was to take the city to the village, so a working class, a proletariat, began to be born in the villages.’
    • ‘What relevance, then, could Marxism, a movement of the urban proletariat, have for the political development of Russia?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She grew up as a member of this oppressed proletariat that Marx and Engels wrote about.’
    • ‘That is to say, the revolutionary hymn that called the proletariats of the world to unite is now anti-revolutionary in the harmonious society.’
    • ‘I want to know more about why the working class or the proletariat is the decisive factor in this fight.’
    • ‘Lenin proposed that the new regime would be a ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry.’’
    • ‘In capitalist society, the main axis of conflict is between the bourgeoisie (the capitalist) and proletariat (the workers).’
    • ‘Human history has remained the chronology of struggles between master and servant, have and have nots, between capitalists and proletariats, exploiter and exploited.’
    • ‘Political art consisted in fusing the petty bourgeoisie into oneness through its common hostility to the proletariat.’
    • ‘The catastrophe into which the world has thrust the socialist proletariat is an unexampled misfortune for humanity.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The dictatorship of the proletariat was key to Marx.’
    • ‘The industrial proletariat was the first to rally around it.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘It was Gandhi's first experience with India's industrial proletariat.’
    • ‘These American farmers were not, then, in the classic Marxist formulation, expropriating the surplus value of a proletariat.’
    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
    the hoi polloi, the plebs, the proles, the great unwashed, the mob, the rabble, the canaille
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1The lowest class of citizens in ancient Rome.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Many flocked to Rome, where they joined the proletariat of propertyless citizens dependent on handouts of free wheat by the state.’


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