Definition of petit bourgeois in US English:

petit bourgeois


  • Of or characteristic of the lower middle class, especially with reference to a perceived conventionalism and conservatism.

    ‘the frail facade of petit bourgeois respectability’
    • ‘The Left in Britain then believed deeply that personal ambition was a petit bourgeois vice to be despised.’
    • ‘Those of the right followed the lead of the petit bourgeois movement which was really a comprehensive attempt by small shopkeepers to limit or thwart their growth, claiming they were destroying the traditional artisan industry.’
    • ‘He has some lovely things to say about Corot, but disparages his later work because Corot's petit bourgeois mentality led him to refuse ‘to speculate on how the world could be changed.’’
    • ‘Still, it was the stifling petit bourgeois respectability of Charleville which engendered the incandescent talent of Arthur Rimbaud, probably the first and still arguably the greatest of adolescent rebel angels.’
    • ‘While as my previous readers will readily attest, I have no axe to grind with excess in and of itself, the petit bourgeois concept of Yuletide enthusiasm has no place in right-thinking society.’


  • A member of the lower middle class, especially when perceived as conventional and conservative.

    • ‘As ‘medium’ or painter, as ‘primitive’ or petit bourgeois, Rousseau undoubtedly captivated contemporary viewers.’
    • ‘By the mid-1800s, successful peasants and petit bourgeois of Europe were routinely visiting a doctor, whereas they would rarely have done so in 1700.’
    • ‘But I cannot imagine these lines in Pollock's mouth, and not just because of all that separates the medieval aristocrat from the modern petit bourgeois.’
    • ‘The genre is traceable to The Diary of a Nobody, in which the brothers Grossmith introduced Charles Pooter, the epitome of the petit bourgeois.’
    • ‘He followed in the tradition of Pierre Poujade, whose protest movement of irate petit bourgeois wielded a similar thorn in the waning days of the Fourth Republic.’


French, literally ‘little citizen’.