Definition of sans-culotte in US English:



  • 1A lower-class Parisian republican in the French Revolution.

    • ‘The sans-culottes demanded that the revolutionary government immediately increase wages, fix prices, end food shortages, punish hoarders and most important, deal with the existence of counter-revolutionaries.’
    • ‘These were the sans-culottes, men who defined themselves not only by their trade but also by the clothes they wore.’
    • ‘While Rousseau is frequently cited with approval by numerous leaders of the sans-culottes, or by Robespierre or Gracchus Babeuf, Rousseau was more a prophet of radical individualism than he was of cooperation.’
    • ‘For the urban poor and even respectable tradesmen, hunger was never far away and during the French Revolution the Parisian sans-culottes had a national maximum for prices as one of their principal political goals.’
    • ‘Proposals were initially made to revise the Constitution of 1793 but, in the wake of abortive uprisings by the Parisian sans-culottes in the spring of 1795, a fresh document was devised instead.’
    • ‘Not only that, numerous French Jacobins and sans-culottes were aware of this in the 1790s as were many of their democratic radical brethren across the English Channel.’
    • ‘This influx of citizen-soldiers, many of them active sans-culottes, intensified radicalism within the army, and many officers were expelled or guillotined.’
    • ‘The sans-culottes had played a role in revolutionary events since 1789, but they had, as a class, received few gains.’
    • ‘While the French Revolution politicized the sans-culottes, the Industrial Revolution industrialized them.’
    • ‘The author also found small similarities between the ‘forces of order’ of 1791 and the sans-culottes movement of 1793, more evidence that crowds of the era were not all cut from the same cloth.’
    • ‘Deputies writing to their constituents describing the threat posed by Jacobins and sans-culottes may have been genuine in their fears.’
    • ‘Tomes have been written on how, in late 18 th-century France, an effete and ineffectual monarchy was replaced by the tyranny of the sans-culottes and the bloodlust of the Committee for Public Safety.’
    1. 1.1 An extreme republican or revolutionary.
      • ‘Neither was it a Rousseauist abstraction, but a body of angry sans-culottes protesting against the recession and tax increases.’
      • ‘If Rousseau had been alive today, the arch-sentimentalist would have been spilling his guts to Oprah and excusing the excesses of present-day sans-culottes like a Guardian leader.’
      • ‘The statement's adoption was in line with the republican movement's calculated agenda to get into power on both sides of the border as an electoral avenue towards a united Ireland with a Sinn Féin sans-culotte hue.’
      • ‘Are not these charitable people - these sans-culottes - very generous to you?’
      • ‘Along with sans-culotte politics came revolutionary tactics.’


French, literally ‘without knee breeches’.