ple·​be·​ian | \ pli-ˈbē-ən How to pronounce plebeian (audio) \

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 How to pronounce plebeian (audio) \ noun


plebeianly adverb

Examples of plebeian in a Sentence

Adjective wondered what the people at the country club would think of his plebeian origins
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In practice, the plebeians (the general citizenry) had fewer voting rights than the aristocratic patricians. National Geographic, "In ancient Rome, citizenship was the path to power," 4 Nov. 2019 The second-class plebeians worked the farms, baked the bread and built the walls. Bret Stetka, Scientific American, "Ancient Teeth Reveal Social Stratification Dates Back to Bronze Age Societies," 11 Oct. 2019 But unlike us plebeians, the model got to come back as an adult and put her own stamp on the iconic toy store, which is reopening at 30 Rockefeller Center on November 16. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Supermodel Gigi Hadid Designed the New FAO Schwarz Soldier Uniforms," 25 Oct. 2018 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But there are precious few supercars anymore that aren't force-fed air by multiple turbos, and all-wheel drive has become just as ubiquitous in more plebeian autos. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "Porsche's 959 Accurately Predicted the Future," 17 Mar. 2020 The reported output figures of at least 400 horsepower and 361 lb-ft of torque for the STI are new, though, and surprising, given that this engine makes 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque in its more plebeian applications. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "2022 Subaru WRX STI: What We Know So Far," 27 Feb. 2020 That's right — getting a hole in one for Simpson is like yawning for plebeian humans. Katherine Fitzgerald, azcentral, "Holes-in-one contagious at Waste Management Phoenix Open for Webb Simpson," 1 Feb. 2020 Behind the film lie the Panama Papers—the millions of files, leaked in 2016, that demonstrated how the wealthy stash their moola offshore and thereby avoid the plebeian vulgarity of tax. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "Villains Hog the Spotlight in “The Laundromat”," 20 Sep. 2019 Once a month, he and Trudy - a registered nurse - volunteer their time at a free medical clinic in Arlington, Virginia, treating the uninsured for problems as plebeian as hemorrhoids. oregonlive, "The tragic, redemptive journey of one human heart," 5 Oct. 2019 Which is to say: The intellectual became a plebeian in part because the patricians abandoned their duty. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "A Herd Has No Mind," 11 July 2019 Come show season, plebeian spots like JFK and Charles de Gaulle become microcosms full of models, Hollywood personalities, and editors in looks that are nap-ready yet obviously super chic. Vogue, "5 Airport Style Lessons From Fashion Month’s Off-Duty Stars," 12 Mar. 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for plebeian

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The first known use of plebeian was in 1533

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Cite this Entry

“Plebeian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for plebeian


How to pronounce plebeian (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of plebeian

: a member of the common people of ancient Rome
: a common person

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