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hoi pol·loi(hoi′ pə-loi′)
The common people; the masses.
[Greek, the many : hoi, nominative pl. of ho, the; see so- in Indo-European roots + polloi, nominative pl. of polus, many; see pelə- in Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: The phrase hoi polloi comes from Greek, where it means "the masses," and properly used, the English word means the same thing. In our 2002 survey, 95 percent of the Usage Panel approved of the example Stars who had arrived in stretch limos were elbow-to-elbow with the hoi polloi who had come on the subway. But many people use the word to refer to the upper crust of society—the exact opposite of its etymological meaning. The confusion may have arisen because of the similarity in sound of hoity toity, which means "pretentiously self-important, haughty." A small but significant portion of the Panel (28 percent) accepted this usage in the example The luxurious sets in the movie evoke the lifestyle of the hoi polloi in the early 20th century. This suggests that some people will allow either meaning of the word, perhaps out of sympathy for fellow speakers of English who did not study Greek. A second problem is related to the word hoi, which is the Greek definite article. Thus, for those who know their Greek, the expression the hoi polloi is a redundancy meaning "the the masses." Nonetheless, 78 percent of the Panel said that they used the with hoi polloi. The expression is an English one, after all.
hoi polloi(ˌhɔɪ pəˈlɔɪ)
often derogatory the masses; common people
[Greek, literally: the many]
hoi pol•loi(ˈhɔɪ pəˈlɔɪ)
the common people; the masses (often preceded by the).
[1815–25; < Greek: the many]
Hoi Polloithe masses; the common people. See also commonalty.
An ancient Greek term meaning the many, used to refer to the common people or masses.
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|Noun||1.||hoi polloi - the common people generally; "separate the warriors from the mass"; "power to the people"|
laity, temporalty - in Christianity, members of a religious community that do not have the priestly responsibilities of ordained clergy
audience - the part of the general public interested in a source of information or entertainment; "every artist needs an audience"; "the broadcast reached an audience of millions"
noun the common people, the masses, the (common) herd, the underclass, the populace, the proletariat, the lower orders, the rabble, the great unwashed (informal & derogatory), the plebs, the third estate, riffraff, the proles (derogatory slang, chiefly Brit.), canaille (French), commonalty Inflated costs are designed to keep the hoi polloi at bay.