ple·​be·​ian | \pli-ˈbē-ən \

Definition of plebeian 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a member of the Roman plebs

2 : one of the common people



Definition of plebeian (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of or relating to plebeians

2 : crude or coarse in manner or style : common

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Other Words from plebeian


plebeianism \pli-​ˈbē-​ə-​ˌni-​zəm \ noun


plebeianly adverb

Examples of plebeian in a Sentence


wondered what the people at the country club would think of his plebeian origins

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Snob is an 18th-century term for a cobbler's apprentice and, by extension, for plebeians in general, like me. P.j. O'rourke, Town & Country, "P.J. O'Rourke on Why Snobbery Is a Good Thing," 15 Sep. 2016 Celebrities surprising unsuspecting plebeians is practically a cottage industry at this point. New York Times, "What’s on TV Friday: ‘Undercover Boss: Celebrity Edition’ and ‘Evil Genius’," 11 May 2018 Running dreams, for runners and plebeians nonrunners alike, are totally common and take myriad forms with boundless interpretations. Grace Perry, Outside Online, "Why I Still Have Stress Dreams About Running Track," 10 Apr. 2018 That is because the Roman Forum began as a market and became the place where patricians would meet plebeians and press the flesh. Ron Grossman,, "Even Socrates may have mourned the closing of Toys R Us," 26 Mar. 2018 Which is, 99 percent of us plebeians need to pick a new hobby. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Queen Elizabeth’s Favorite Hobby Has Earned Her Millions," 25 Oct. 2017 Rome had experienced plenty of internal conflict between patricians and plebeians since its founding, but none rose to the level of war until 88 BCE. Scott Spillman, New Republic, "War, Civil War, or Revolution?," 30 Aug. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

This 1,275-foot work, in four sections, by Benjamin Russell (1804-1885), the town’s premier whaleman artist, helped by Caleb Purrington (1812-1876), a more plebeian sign painter, was exhibited for the first time in 1848. Willard Spiegelman, WSJ, "Sailing the Globe in a Gallery," 3 Aug. 2018 Well aware of the difference between patrician gardening in the grand style and the more plebeian approach of cottage gardening, Ms. Lively appreciates both. Barbara Paul Robinson, WSJ, "‘Life in the Garden’ Review: Getting Your Hands Dirty," 12 July 2018 While you and your plebeian friends celebrated Independence Day by firing up a few mediocre hotdogs on the barbecue, J-Rod were busy cozying up to each other on a picturesque beach looking hot as heck (literally and metaphorically speaking). Ruby Buddemeyer, Marie Claire, "Are Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez Engaged? Here Are All the Clues," 6 July 2018 Of course, there's also the plebeian alternative: Gently rub a refrigerated spoon under your eyes to mimic the same cooling effect for zero dollars. Ruby Buddemeyer, Marie Claire, "How Amy Schumer Fixed Her Under-Eye Bags in Just 10 Minutes," 11 June 2018 Then again, maybe my low penmanship expectations are the product of my plebeian public-school education. Anne Thériault, Longreads, "Queens of Infamy: Anne Boleyn," 25 May 2018 From May 18 through May 20, any plebeian can purchase a $4 cupcake and feel like a royal guest. Melissa Minton, Teen Vogue, "Sprinkles Cupcakes Is Creating Mini Versions of the Royal Wedding Cake," 15 May 2018 Penn food hall The University of Pennsylvania’s former Moravian Food Court at 3401 Walnut St. — known for plebeian choices such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and A&W — soars higher on the food chain with Franklin’s Table Food Hall. Michael Klein,, "Fork alums open Cadence," 13 Mar. 2018 The Tungsten is distinguished from the more plebeian Ram Limited by a segment-first suede headliner, exclusive white-and-indigo leather not unlike that in the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, real wood trim, and body-color exterior components. Duncan Brady, Car and Driver, "Heavier Metal: 2018 Ram Limited Tungsten Editions Add Heft to Prices," 27 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plebeian.' 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 plebeian


1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for plebeian


Latin plebeius of the common people, from plebs common people

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Statistics for plebeian

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for plebeian

The first known use of plebeian was in 1533

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More Definitions for plebeian



English Language Learners Definition of plebeian

: a member of the common people of ancient Rome

: a common person

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