bourgeois

adjective
bour·​geois | \ ˈbu̇rzh-ˌwä also ˈbu̇zh- or ˈbüzh- or bu̇rzh-ˈwä How to pronounce bourgeois (audio) \

Definition of bourgeois

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of the social middle class
2 : marked by a concern for material interests and respectability and a tendency toward mediocrity
3 : dominated by commercial and industrial interests : capitalistic

bourgeois

noun
bour·​geois | \ ˈbu̇rzh-ˌwä also ˈbu̇zh- or ˈbüzh- or bu̇rzh-ˈwä How to pronounce bourgeois (audio) \
plural bourgeois\ ˈbu̇rzh-​ˌwä(z) also  ˈbu̇zh-​ or  ˈbüzh-​ or  bu̇rzh-​ˈwä(z) How to pronounce bourgeois (audio) \

Definition of bourgeois (Entry 2 of 4)

1a : a middle-class person
b : burgher
2 : a person with social behavior and political views held to be influenced by private-property interest : capitalist
3  plural : bourgeoisie

Bourgeois

biographical name (1)
Bour·​geois | \ bu̇rzh-ˈwä How to pronounce Bourgeois (audio) , ˈbu̇rzh-ˌwä\

Definition of Bourgeois (Entry 3 of 4)

Léon-Victor-Auguste 1851–1925 French statesman

Bourgeois

biographical name (2)

Definition of Bourgeois (Entry 4 of 4)

Louise 1911–2010 American (French-born) sculptor

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from bourgeois

Adjective

bourgeoisification \ ˌbu̇(r)zh-​ˌwä-​zə-​fə-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce bourgeoisification (audio) \ noun
bourgeoisify \ bu̇(r)zh-​ˈwä-​zə-​ˌfī How to pronounce bourgeoisify (audio) \ verb

History of Bourgeois

Bourgeois is often mistakenly used to refer to people of considerable wealth or status, possibly because the French pronunciation causes us to associate it with opulence, yet the word is of decidedly middle-class origins (and meaning). It first appeared as a noun signifying “an inhabitant of a town” in the 1564 work A Discourse Wrytten by M. Theodore de Beza: “the Lordes of Strasbourgh consented, vpo condition that he should be alwayes a Bourgeois of their towne.” Because many town-dwellers made their living in business and commerce, bourgeois became synonymous with the social class of such people, namely, the middle class. During the nineteenth century, in Marxist writings, the word became associated with capitalism and took on a negative connotation. Bourgeois may function as either a noun or an adjective. In modern parlance, it has come to suggest overmuch concern with respectability and wealth.

Examples of bourgeois in a Sentence

Adjective

Indignation about the powers that be and the bourgeois fools who did their bidding—that was all you needed … You were an intellectual. — Tom Wolfe, Harper's, June 2000 Even before the 19th century was over, successive waves of collection mania had rolled across Europe and America, submerging country homes and bourgeois town houses in ferns and faux-Grecian ruins … — Liesl Schillinger, New York Times Book Review, 7 Feb. 1999 Or is Sartre's existentialism to be understood as only a way station in his transit from a bourgeois intellectual to a Marxist ideologue? — Walker Percy, "The State of the Novel," 1977, in Signposts in a Strange Land1991 … the United States … was the bourgeois nation par excellence, in which, it might be said, the values of trade were transmogrified into ideals of freedom. — Robert Penn Warren, Democracy and Poetry, 1975

Noun

For many, Nietzsche has always been a bugaboo, though some regard him as an heroic destroyer of idols, the invigorating voice of skepticism, and a revealer of those embarrassing actualities that the pieties and protestations of the bourgeois have customarily concealed. — William H. Gass, Harper's, August 2005 With exceptions like Rousseau, the philosophes were elitists. They enlightened through noblesse oblige in company with noblemen, and often with a patronizing attitude toward the bourgeois as well as the common people. — Robert Darnton, The Kiss of Lamourette, 1990

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In a series of paintings on canvas from these years, bourgeois couples conduct clandestine affairs amid sparse, pastel-toned interiors. Samuel Reilly, 1843, "Enigmatic and erotic: the art of Félix Vallotton," 3 July 2019 Jacqueline lived here with a host family — a discreet plaque on an exterior wall boasts of the building’s illustrious former tenant — sharing a rambling, bourgeois apartment with seven other people. New York Times, "A Year in Paris That Transformed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis," 23 June 2019 Drndić knows that there is something appealingly bourgeois about the narrative of being recalled to one’s self through the loss of family. Merve Emre, The New York Review of Books, "‘Dismembered, Relocated, Rearranged’," 6 June 2019 The adultery novel could also serve to investigate the costs, particularly to women, of belonging to bourgeois society, with its empty consumerism and oppressive morality. Daniel Mendelsohn, Town & Country, "How Infidelity Helped Create the Novel," 2 May 2019 Carr, a Gilbert and Sullivan fan, takes the conventional bourgeois view of it as a collection of worthy monuments. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Screwball Eggheads Tear Up the Library in ‘Travesties’," 24 Apr. 2018 The Party machinery renounced the Yugoslav youth and their bourgeois tendencies, as did the institutions of the state, and the youth got its young asses kicked both rhetorically and actually. Aleksandar Hemon, The New Yorker, "My Mother and the Failed Experiment of Yugoslavia," 5 June 2019 Bitter, full of petit-bourgeois resentment and genuine grief (his son died fighting in Poland), Drygalski is suspicious of the entitled and aloof Globig clan, and has been watching them for years. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "Walter Kempowski’s Epic Novel of Germany in Collapse," 21 Mar. 2016 Slimane supplanted the tepidly pretty, bourgeois style of the house’s previous designer, Stefano Pilati, with a rock-and-roll spirit more appropriate for Hollywood Boulevard than Paris’s rue de Grenelle. Alexandra Marshall, WSJ, "Exclusive: Step Inside YSL’s New Parisian Headquarters," 15 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There were bourgeois city dwellers and poor farmers, Communists and non-Communists, reactionaries, Old Bolsheviks, internationalist Comintern officials; fur coats, pianos, subways, airplanes; careerism, backbiting, and ambition. Aaron Lake Smith, Harper's magazine, "The Trials of Vasily Grossman," 24 June 2019 Celine’s Hedi Slimane surprised just about everyone with his reappraisal of the label’s ’70s and ’80s haute bourgeois uniform. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "The Top 12 Shows of Paris Fashion Week Fall 2019," 6 Mar. 2019 While Burberry, Balmain, and Tom Ford all embraced the muted shade with classic bourgeois stylings on the runways, Bieber’s take on the look was more casual and streetwise in attitude. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Hailey Bieber Steps Out In Fashion’s Coolest New Neutral Shade," 19 Nov. 2018 Those three presidents had been raised in the ideals of bourgeois knightliness. Lance Morrow, WSJ, "Did Chivalry Go Down With the Titanic?," 14 Dec. 2018 Members of the rich elite are referred to as fifis, the equivalent of bourgeois. New York Times, "The Firebrand Leftist Far Ahead in Mexico’s Presidential Polls," 29 June 2018 Delano is an uptight bourgeois black fellow from Oak Park. Tony Adler, Chicago Reader, "The members of Support Group for Men don’t get eviscerated, but what does happen isn’t much more edifying," 2 July 2018 The decadence served at pricey bourgeois restaurants are withheld from the tongues of those who craft such pleasures. refinery29.com, "The Revolution Will Not Be Salaried," 31 May 2018 That maxim—a sound mind in a sound body—is the sort of bourgeois faux-wisdom that fails to equip Aickman’s civil servants to deal with the supernatural. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Weird Fiction Is Alive," 7 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bourgeois.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of bourgeois

Adjective

1761, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for bourgeois

Adjective and Noun

Middle French, from Old French burgeis townsman, from burc, borg town, from Latin burgus

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bourgeois

Dictionary Entries near bourgeois

bourette

bourg

bourgade

bourgeois

Bourgeois

bourgeoise

bourgeoisie

Statistics for bourgeois

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bourgeois

The first known use of bourgeois was in 1604

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for bourgeois

bourgeois

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of bourgeois

: relating to or belonging to the middle class of society
disapproving : having qualities or values associated with the middle class : too concerned about wealth, possessions, and respectable behavior

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on bourgeois

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bourgeois

Spanish Central: Translation of bourgeois

Nglish: Translation of bourgeois for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bourgeois for Arabic Speakers

Comments on bourgeois

What made you want to look up bourgeois? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!