Definition of parvenu in US English:



  • A person of obscure origin who has gained wealth, influence, or celebrity.

    ‘the political inexperience of a parvenu’
    as modifier ‘he concealed the details of his parvenu lifestyle’
    • ‘You rather liked parvenus: they had energy; they knew what they wanted.’
    • ‘He presented himself as a supremely patrician figure, so different from the vulgar parvenues of the Thatcher cabinet.’
    • ‘The others are parvenus and upstarts in comparison.’
    • ‘And yet one often hears the bitterness of a displaced generation: ‘How many out of this avalanche of parvenus will stay the course?’’
    • ‘It sounds good that some of the parvenus have volunteered to pay taxes.’
    upstart, social climber, arriviste, vulgarian
    View synonyms


Early 19th century: from French, literally ‘arrived’, past participle of parvenir, from Latin pervenire ‘come to, reach’.