belonging or pertaining to the common people.
of, relating to, or belonging to the ancient Roman plebs.
common, commonplace, or vulgar: a plebeian joke.


a member of the common people.
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 for plebeian Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for plebeian

Historical Examples of plebeian

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

  • 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



of, relating to, or characteristic of the common people, esp those of Rome
lacking refinement; vulgarplebeian tastes


one of the common people, esp one of the Roman plebs
a person who is coarse or lacking in discernment
Derived Formsplebeianism, noun

Word Origin for plebeian

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

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.


"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