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or bolshevik

[bohl-shuh-vik, bol-; Russian buh l-shi-vyeek] /ˈboʊl ʃə vɪk, ˈbɒl-; Russian bəl ʃɪˈvyik/
noun, plural Bolsheviks, Bolsheviki
[bohl-shuh-vik-ee, -vee-kee; Russian buh l-shi-vyi-kyee] /ˈboʊl ʃəˌvɪk i, -ˌvi ki; Russian bəl ʃɪ vyɪˈkyi/ (Show IPA)
  1. a member of the more radical majority of the Social Democratic Party, 1903–17, advocating immediate and forceful seizure of power by the proletariat.
  2. (after 1918) a member of the Russian Communist Party.
(loosely) a member of any Communist party.
(often lowercase) Disparaging. a contemptuous term used to refer to an extreme radical or revolutionary.
Origin of Bolshevik
1915-20; < Russian bolʾshevík, equivalent to bólʾsh(iĭ) larger, greater (comparative of bolʾshóĭ large; compare bolʾshinstvó majority) + -evik, variant of -ovik noun suffix; cf. Menshevik
Related forms
anti-Bolshevik, noun, adjective
non-Bolshevik, noun
pro-Bolshevik, adjective, noun
Usage note
When Bolshevik is used to refer to an extreme radical, it implies that such a person has a strongly felt subversive or combative ideology counter to the status quo. The 20-century poets T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound were called literary Bolsheviks by a writer in a London newspaper. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Bolshevik
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Gay cannot be a Bolshevik, because he is too well educated and too clever for it.

    Beasts, Men and Gods Ferdinand Ossendowski
  • I did not fear him because I saw that he was not a Bolshevik and later had confirmation of this.

    Beasts, Men and Gods Ferdinand Ossendowski
  • In Russia "Bolshevik" means majority, and "Menshevik" minority.

  • The Bolshevik band will be here in less than twenty-four hours.

    Panther Eye Roy J. Snell
  • It was only a matter of moments until the whole Bolshevik band would be upon him.

    Panther Eye Roy J. Snell
British Dictionary definitions for Bolshevik


noun (pl) -viks, -viki (-ˈviːkɪ)
(formerly) a Russian Communist Compare Menshevik
any Communist
(often not capital) (jocular, derogatory) any political radical, esp a revolutionary
Derived Forms
Bolshevism, noun
Bolshevist, adjective, noun
Bolshevistic, adjective
Word Origin
C20: from Russian Bol'shevik majority, from bol'shoi great; from the fact that this group formed a majority of the Russian Social Democratic Party in 1903
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Bolshevik

1917, from Russian bol'shiy "greater," comparative of adjective bol'shoy "big, great" (cf. Bolshoi Ballet), from Old Church Slavonic boljiji "larger," from PIE root *bel- "strong" (cf. Sanskrit balam "strength, force," Greek beltion "better," Phrygian balaios "big, fast," Old Irish odbal "strong," Welsh balch "proud;" Middle Dutch, Low German, Frisian pal "strong, firm").

It was the faction of the Russian Social Democratic Worker's Party after a split in 1903 that was either larger or more extreme (or both) than the Mensheviks (from Russian men'shij "less"); after they seized power in 1917, applied generally to Russian communists. Bolshevism is recorded from 1917.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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