- the common people; the masses (often preceded by the).
Origin of hoi polloi
Examples from the Web for hoi polloi
No use letting the "hoi-polloi" get on to it that I was a greenhorn.An American Hobo in Europe
This was to be a plush project for big spenders, with Vegas and Reno reserved for the hoi-polloi.Mars Confidential
As was well known, when Harris Collins performed he performed only for the élite, for the hoi-polloi of the trained-animal world.Michael, Brother of Jerry
- often derogatory the masses; common people
Word Origin and History for hoi polloi
1837, from Greek hoi polloi (plural) "the people," literally "the many" (plural of polys; see poly-). Used in Greek by Dryden (1668) and Byron (1822), in both cases preceded by the, even though Greek hoi means "the," a mistake repeated often by subsequent writers, who at least have the excuse of ignorance of Greek.
The masses, the ordinary folk; the phrase is often used in a derogatory way to refer to a popular preference or incorrect opinion: “The hoi polloi may think that Fitzgerald is a great director, but those who know about film realize that his work is commercial and derivative.” From Greek, meaning “the many.”