[sanz-kyoo-lot, -koo-; French sahn-ky-lawt]
noun, plural sans-cu·lottes [sanz-kyoo-lots, -koo-; French sahn-ky-lawt] /ˌsænz kyʊˈlɒts, -kʊ-; French sɑ̃ küˈlɔt/.
  1. (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.
  2. any extreme republican or revolutionary.

Origin of sans-culotte

1780–90; < French: literally, without knee breeches
Related formssans-cu·lot·tic [sanz-kyoo-lot-ik, -koo-] /ˌsænz kyʊˈlɒt ɪk, -kʊ-/, adjectivesans-cu·lot·tish, adjectivesans-cu·lot·tism, nounsans-cu·lot·tist, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sans-culotte

Historical Examples of sans-culotte

  • 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.


    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

British Dictionary definitions for sans-culotte


  1. (during the French Revolution)
    1. (originally) a revolutionary of the poorer class
    2. (later) any revolutionary, esp one having extreme republican sympathies
  2. any revolutionary extremist
Derived Formssans-culottism, nounsans-culottist, noun

Word Origin for sans-culotte

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

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