Definition of proletarian in US English:



  • Relating to the proletariat.

    ‘a proletarian ideology’
    • ‘It did not, however, represent either a new form of proletarian power or a viable strategy of socialist revolution.’
    • ‘The processes of economic imperialism, proletarian enslavement and continuous war are explained painlessly through Winston and Julia's private resistance.’
    • ‘As we have already demonstrated on the basis of the historical record, Cannon's struggle against Pabloism was the highpoint of his life as a Marxist revolutionary and proletarian internationalist.’
    • ‘The theme of an economically divided America appeals not to the actual poor, but to wealthy, left-wing college graduates who like to strike proletarian poses.’
    • ‘All of this vanished like mist before a strong wind when war broke out and all thoughts of international proletarian solidarity went out of the window.’
    • ‘The narrow view of economic democracy articulated by the Movement meant that the organization of labour as proletarian labour throughout the economy remained intact.’
    • ‘In Eastern Europe, most of the new states of 1920 had fallen under Moscow-controlled communist regimes at least formally committed to the concept of proletarian internationalism.’
    • ‘Thus do the social conditions of proletarian existence in contemporary society, conditions first elucidated by Marxist theory, take vengeance by the fate they impose upon Marxist theory itself.’
    • ‘My father was adamant that change could not come about without a violent revolution and a proletarian dictatorship.’
    • ‘Current pedagogy describes these traits under new terms that valorize them as usefully proletarian and subversive.’
    • ‘The sit-in was therefore rife with just the sorts of contradictions which communists identified with proletarian womanhood, and women became obvious and crucial actors in its realization.’
    • ‘Her writing explored folk models and, in particular, the short metrical rhymes of Mother Goose - poems of anonymous authorship, of proletarian origin, and of subtly subversive intent.’
    • ‘Marxists believe that there are two great opposing camps that are battling it out on the world-historical stage, and that these are the capitalist and proletarian classes.’
    • ‘The argument was that since the era had not changed there could not be any new ‘ism’, or overall development of proletarian ideology, after Leninism.’
    • ‘Far from being utopian, the Marxist perspective of proletarian internationalism is based on the fact that capitalism has integrated the world economy into a mighty, interconnected whole.’
    • ‘This did not simply mean the promotion of international proletarian solidarity.’
    • ‘If, in the long run, the beliefs expressed in proletarian dictatorship are destined to be accepted by the dominant forces of the community, the only meaning of free speech is that they should be given their chance and have their way.’
    • ‘While appealing to intellectuals, it was distinctively proletarian in doctrine and temper.’
    • ‘He joined the French Communist Party soon after his return (he had been sympathetic to it long before this) and favoured proletarian subjects that he hoped would be accessible to the working class.’
    • ‘The SEP advocates a proletarian internationalist solution to the war.’
    working-class, plebeian, cloth-cap, common, ordinary
    View synonyms


  • A member of the proletariat.

    • ‘The organisation of the proletarians into a class, and consequently into a political party, is continually being upset again by competition between the workers themselves.’
    • ‘The New Economy of globalised capital flows thus creates a new division of capitalists and proletarians - owners and workers.’
    • ‘Clearly capitalist entrepreneurs need proletarians and vice versa.’
    • ‘This new élite was no longer composed of old revolutionaries of middle-class origin, but was drawn from the trained and educated offspring of peasants and proletarians who stood nearer to the masses.’
    • ‘Capitalists and proletarians struggle for ownership of the means of production and control over the state.’
    • ‘The idea was that industrialized, mass-produced housing could shelter all those wretched proletarians consigned to rat-infested tenements.’
    • ‘The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.’
    • ‘It's not special privileges for the proletarians and working classes, but more rights for workers and government employees, and equality between the different jobs.’
    • ‘They are covering an insurrection of Parisian proletarians.’
    • ‘The result of these processes is that for the first time in human history the majority of the world's people are proletarians, having nothing to sell but their labour power.’
    • ‘Now the peasantry is being transformed everywhere into proletarians and the middle classes in the advanced capitalist countries are likewise being turned into wage workers.’
    • ‘Formally educated white-collar proletarians commonly didn't consider themselves workers, even though they were selling their labour power to survive just the same as the dustman.’
    • ‘In this country we prefer our proletarians to doff their caps rather than to assert their fundamental rights.’
    • ‘There was also the perennial problem of all concerted attempts to ‘elevate’ the workers' taste in popular art: like it or not, proletarians enjoy ‘bourgeois’ realism.’
    • ‘Prisoners were therefore portrayed as perfect proletarians, actual builders of communism.’
    • ‘For this the efforts of the proletarians of several advanced countries are necessary.’
    • ‘This internal conflict amongst the proletarians in turn complicates the simplicity of Marx's call for a revolution that would necessarily unite laborers en masse against bourgeois capitalists.’
    • ‘That was precisely what made them attractive to the intellectuals; and a kind of piety about truly authentic proletarians was to be found among Marxist intellectuals for generations.’
    • ‘Moral economy historians tend to view capitalism as a system in which some exploit the labor of others: the key division in society is between property-owning capitalists and propertyless proletarians.’
    • ‘We can be millionaires, seek to extend the reach of government into the personal lives of Americans and not even have to pretend to relate to the ordinary proletarians.’
    working-class person, worker, working person, plebeian, commoner, ordinary person, man in the street, person in the street, woman in the street
    View synonyms


Mid 17th century: from Latin proletarius (from proles ‘offspring’), denoting a person having no wealth in property, who only served the state by producing offspring, + -an.