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From French prolétariat, from Latin proletarius (a man whose only wealth is his offspring, or whose sole service to the state is as father), from proles (offspring, posterity)


  • (US) enPR: 'prōlĭʹtârēət, IPA(key): /ˌpɹoʊlɪˈtɛəɹi.ət/
  • (file)


proletariat (countable and uncountable, plural proletariats)

  1. The working class or lower class.
    • 1906, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party[1], page 173:
      "Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie to day the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class."
  2. The wage earners collectively, excluding salaried workers.
  3. Those who profit less than or proportional to the profit of their total labor.
  4. (historical) In ancient Rome, the lowest class of citizens, who had no property; "regarded as contributing nothing to the state but offspring" (OED, 1992).

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