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
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

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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 Her identity is defined by the bourgeois perfection of her material world. John Lahr, The New Yorker, "Todd Haynes Rewrites the Hollywood Playbook," 4 Nov. 2019 Unlike my mother, my grandmother had grown old the proper, bourgeois way. Catherine Texier, Longreads, "I’m 72. So What?," 24 Oct. 2019 But the real winery agreed to collaborate on a special edition of their 2016 cru bourgeois vintage. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Boldly going where no palate has gone before: A Star Trek wine tasting," 4 Oct. 2019 Victoria Beckham and Burberry’s new look of bourgeois elegance in London prompted several women to wear skirt suits and head-to-toe camel before the trend had even crystallized at Hedi Slimane’s Celine show. Emily Farra, Vogue, "The Biggest Street-Style Trends of Fall 2019," 13 Mar. 2019 To allow bourgeois freedoms would only make our country’s affairs chaotic. Washington Post, "Li Peng, Chinese premier during Tiananmen crackdown, dies," 23 July 2019 As A Doll’s House had, Ghosts (1881)—with its revelations of infidelity, syphilis, and incestuous desire in a respectable bourgeois family—caused a scandal. Andrew Katzenstein, Harper's magazine, "The Radical Conservative," 16 Sep. 2019 The photographs by Steven Klein were a calculated affront to bourgeois sensibilities. New York Times, "Is the Celebrity Editor Becoming Extinct?," 7 Sep. 2019 The Sunni slums that did not are being demolished and redeveloped for his bourgeois supporters. The Economist, "Syria will poison the region for years to come," 5 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The world that comes into focus feels less cosily bourgeois than his reputation would suggest. B.t. | Delft, The Economist, "In a new exhibition, Pieter de Hooch steps out of Vermeer’s shadow," 16 Oct. 2019 Like pious Carmela in her haute bourgeois drag, art museums are married to the mob. Rhonda Lieberman, The New Republic, "Painting Over the Dirty Truth," 23 Sep. 2019 Madame Simenon tortured young Georges, his father, and herself with her dreams of bourgeois elevation. Vince Passaro, Harper's magazine, "Maigret All Day," 22 July 2019 An offshoot of the official Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group, the messaging forum was at one point named ‘‘Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens,’’ according to the Crimson. BostonGlobe.com, "What leads Harvard to rescind admission?," 18 June 2019 Once shunned by the revolutionary government as bourgeois, tourism has become one of Cuba’s most important generators of foreign exchange since the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of its subsidies to Cuba. Mimi Whitefield, Los Angeles Times, "Cuba feels the pinch of the Trump administration’s travel restrictions," 11 Aug. 2019 The subject is a classic example of a mid-19th-century bourgeois Parisienne; her glance is either a smile or a judgment. James Mcauley, Town & Country, "The Haunting of Paris: Georges Mandel and the Long Legacy of Nazi Violence," 6 Aug. 2019 As two bourgeois who had decided to disavow their social origins, Sartre and Beauvoir understood the bourgeoisie’s violence against them, but they were deeply hurt by the Communists’ reaction. Longreads, "When Sartre and Beauvoir Started a Magazine," 10 Apr. 2018 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

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.

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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

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Statistics for bourgeois

Last Updated

16 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for bourgeois

The first known use of bourgeois was in 1604

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More Definitions for bourgeois

bourgeois

adjective
How to pronounce Bourgeois (audio)

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

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