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From Ancient Greek πλουτοκρατία (ploutokratía, rule of the wealthy), from πλουτοκρατέω (ploutokratéō, I rule through wealth), from πλοῦτος (ploûtos, wealth) + κρατέω (kratéō, I rule) (from κράτος (krátos, power”, “might)).



plutocracy (countable and uncountable, plural plutocracies)

  1. Government by the wealthy.
    • 1933, G. K. Chesterton, “On Industrialism”, in All I Survey:
      Modernity is not democracy; machinery is not democracy; the surrender of everything to trade and commerce is not democracy. Capitalism is not democracy; and is admittedly, by trend and savour, rather against democracy. Plutocracy by definition is not democracy. But all these modern things forced themselves into the world at about the time, or shortly after the time, when great idealists like Rousseau and Jefferson happened to have been thinking about the democratic ideal of democracy.
  2. A controlling class of the wealthy.
    • 2019 July 8, Michelle Goldberg, “Jeffrey Epstein Is the Ultimate Symbol of Plutocratic Rot”, in New York Times[1]:
      Her piece painted him as an enigmatic Jay Gatsby type, a boy from a middle-class family in Brooklyn who had scaled the rungs of the plutocracy, though no one could quite figure out how he made his money.


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