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plebeian

[pli-bee-uh n]
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adjective
  1. belonging or pertaining to the common people.
  2. of, relating to, or belonging to the ancient Roman plebs.
  3. common, commonplace, or vulgar: a plebeian joke.
noun
  1. a member of the common people.
  2. a member of the ancient Roman plebs.

Origin of plebeian

1525–35; < Latin plēbēi(us) of the plebs (plēbē(s) plebs + -ius adj. suffix) + -an
Related formsple·be·ian·ism, nounple·be·ian·ly, adverbple·be·ian·ness, nounun·ple·be·ian, adjective

Synonyms

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3. lowbrow, low, ordinary, popular.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for plebeian

Historical Examples

  • He's a plebeian from his thick shoe soles to his thin hair; but he's honest.

    The Bacillus of Beauty

    Harriet Stark

  • Well; there is nothing like being a plebeian and a Prime Minister!

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • Just this: you'll have to fight; and if you were a 'Gemeiner'—a plebeian—you'd get off.

    A Day's Ride

    Charles James Lever

  • I believe he was shocked by my plebeian abruptness but he was too polite to show it.

    The Arrow of Gold

    Joseph Conrad

  • He was a German plebeian, with no chance ever to improve his condition.


British Dictionary definitions for plebeian

plebeian

adjective
  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of the common people, esp those of Rome
  2. lacking refinement; vulgarplebeian tastes
noun
  1. one of the common people, esp one of the Roman plebs
  2. a person who is coarse or lacking in discernment
Derived Formsplebeianism, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Latin plēbēius belonging to the people, from plēbs the common people of ancient Rome
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

Word Origin and History for plebeian

adj.

also plebian, "of or characteristic of the lower class," 1560s in a Roman historical sense, from Latin plebeius "belonging to the plebs," earlier plebes, "the populace, the common people" (as opposed to patricians, etc.), also "commonality; the mass, the multitude; the lower class," from PIE *ple- (see pleio-). In general (non-historical) use from 1580s.

n.

"member of the lowest class," 1530s, from Latin plebius "person not of noble rank," from adjective meaning "of the common people" (see plebeian (adj.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper