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[sanz-kyoo-lot, -koo-; French sahn-ky-lawt] /ˌsænz kyʊˈlɒt, -kʊ-; French sɑ̃ küˈlɔt/
noun, plural sans-culottes
[sanz-kyoo-lots, -koo-; French sahn-ky-lawt] /ˌsænz kyʊˈlɒts, -kʊ-; French sɑ̃ küˈlɔt/ (Show IPA)
(in the French Revolution) a revolutionary of the poorer class: originally a term of contempt applied by the aristocrats but later adopted as a popular name by the revolutionaries.
any extreme republican or revolutionary.
Origin of sans-culotte
1780-90; < French: literally, without knee breeches
Related forms
[sanz-kyoo-lot-ik, -koo-] /ˌsænz kyʊˈlɒt ɪk, -kʊ-/ (Show IPA),
sans-culottish, adjective
sans-culottism, noun
sans-culottist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sans-culotte
Historical Examples
  • But Boivin was a soldier, and a soldier is not a sans-culotte.

  • Dr. Mivers was as much scouted as if he had been a sans-culotte.

    Lucretia, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • A sans-culotte, who lived near by and whose suspicions had been aroused, followed him one evening.

    Which? Ernest Daudet
  • "These are all sans-culotte literature, I take it," said his Lordship; but the youth was stupefied and silent.

    The Fortunes Of Glencore Charles James Lever
  • Clearly the sans-culotte of Brussels was a mere tinsel imitation of the genuine article at Paris.


    George W. T. (George William Thomson) Omond
  • Hard names were not wanting either; Jefferson was ridiculed as a sans-culotte and red-legged Democrat.

    Albert Gallatin John Austin Stevens
  • Two men in sans-culotte costume were seated at a small table in the restaurant of Père Lefèvre.

    When a Cobbler Ruled a King Augusta Huiell Seaman
  • Fancy living in a room with David's sans-culotte Leonidas staring perpetually in your face!

    The Paris Sketch Book of Mr. M. A. Titmarsh William Makepeace Thackeray
British Dictionary definitions for sans-culotte


/ˌsænzkjʊˈlɒt; French sɑ̃kylɔt/
(during the French Revolution)
  1. (originally) a revolutionary of the poorer class
  2. (later) any revolutionary, esp one having extreme republican sympathies
any revolutionary extremist
Derived Forms
sans-culottism, noun
sans-culottist, noun
Word Origin
C18: from French, literally: without knee breeches, because the revolutionaries wore pantaloons or trousers rather than knee breeches
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 sans-culotte

also sansculotte, "lower-class republican of the French Revolution," 1790, from French, literally "without breeches;" see sans + cullotes. Usually explained as referring to the class whose distinctive costume was pantalons (long trousers) as opposed to the upper classes, which wore culottes (knee-breeches), but this is not certain. Related: Sans-culottes; sans-culotterie.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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