pro·​le·​tar·​i·​at | \ ˌprō-lə-ˈter-ē-ət How to pronounce proletariat (audio) , -ē-ˌat\

Definition of proletariat

1 : the laboring class especially : the class of industrial workers who lack their own means of production and hence sell their labor to live
2 : the lowest social or economic class of a community

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Examples of proletariat in a Sentence

the Bolsheviks believed that Russia's discontented proletariat made that nation ripe for revolution

Recent Examples on the Web

Marx’s proletariat is being reborn as the precariat. The Economist, "Rulers of the world: read Karl Marx!," 3 May 2018 Its modernization had involved uprooting the peasants, the vast majority of the population, from the countryside and turning them into an urban proletariat. Azar Gat, WSJ, "The ‘Modernizing Dictator’ Is No Myth," 13 Nov. 2018 More critically, the claim that our current crisis has economic roots does not rest on psychoanalyzing the Trumpen proletariat. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "America’s Version of Capitalism Is Incompatible With Democracy," 23 May 2018 Hernandez also wants to stir the proletariat to like him — finally — and not be angry with the Giants for keeping him around at the expense of prospect Steven Duggar, who might spend the entire summer in Sacramento honing his bat. Henry Schulman, San Francisco Chronicle, "Giants’ Hernandez turning AT&T into Gorkys’ park," 7 June 2018 Unlike the universalist utopian visions of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the self-regulating market, the mixed economy requires endless tinkering and compromise. Justin Fox, New York Times, "How Rampant Globalization Brought Us Trump," 18 May 2018 However, in a Marxist revolution, the proletariat will come together to overthrow the bourgeoisie and ultimately, win the class conflict by taking control over their work, or striking. Danielle Corcione, Teen Vogue, "Who Is Karl Marx: Meet the Anti-Capitalist Scholar," 10 May 2018 What would the man who called for the violent overthrow of the capitalist system via a revolution of the proletariat have made of his life being remembered through useless tchotchkes? Griff Witte, Washington Post, "The 5 most ridiculously capitalist souvenirs for sale at Karl Marx’s 200th birthday party," 5 May 2018 The fall from grace is embodied in capitalism; man is redeemed as the proletariat rises up against its exploiters and creates a communist utopia. The Economist, "Rulers of the world: read Karl Marx!," 3 May 2018

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

1847, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for proletariat

French prolétariat, from Latin proletarius

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Statistics for proletariat

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for proletariat

The first known use of proletariat was in 1847

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an act or instance of editing or removing

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