[uhn-der-klas, -klahs]


a social stratum consisting of impoverished persons with very low social status.

Origin of underclass

First recorded in 1915–20; under- + class

Usage note

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for underclass



a class beneath the usual social scale consisting of the most disadvantaged people, such as the unemployed in inner cities
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 underclass

"subordinate social class," 1894, from under (adj.) + class (n.). A loan-translation of Swedish underklass.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper