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 Marxism in its origins primarily focused on the industrial proletariat, but Mao’s model, unlike the one that guided Lenin and the Russian revolutionaries to victory, suggested that the peasantry could become the revolutionary social class. Julian Gewirtz, Harper's Magazine, "To Rebel Is Justified," 30 Mar. 2020 While our Ram 1500 Limited is priced like a luxury vehicle, at $66,310, and trimmed like one, with its leather-and-wood trappings, the maintenance at our local dealership is priced for the proletariat. Eric Tingwall, Car and Driver, "Our Ram 1500 Shines as a Luxurious, Go-Anywhere Snow Machine," 28 Jan. 2020 The socialist paradise of the proletariat, which built the Wall and the Iron Curtain from the Baltic to the Adriatic and was responsible for 100 million dead, remains unnamed as the enemy. Jakub Grygiel, National Review, "Mister Heiko Maas, Shred That Article!," 8 Nov. 2019 Marx claimed to have shown that history was a process of continual conflict moving toward a final redemption, when the proletariat would cast off its chains and the exploitation of humanity would disappear. Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker, "The Desperate Plight Behind “Darkness at Noon”," 23 Sep. 2019 Furthermore, the plant is topped by comely flowers, which in time proudly adorned the button-holes of no less than Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, in their day intentionally marketing the potato to a then-skeptical proletariat. Bill St. John, The Denver Post, "Get Cooking: Colombian exchange offered us the potato," 9 Oct. 2019 This whole idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat really makes no sense whatsoever. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "Amartya Sen’s Hopes and Fears for Indian Democracy," 6 Oct. 2019 While the Soviet Union was — at least in theory — a dictatorship of the proletariat, Putin’s Russia is truly a spin doctor dictatorship. Leonid Ragozin, Time, "Moscow's Elections Show Putin Is Losing the War at Home," 10 Sep. 2019 In some ways this affluent proletariat viewed itself as a kind of modern yeomanry — willing to serve the country in war, but anxious to live self-sufficiently and among equals. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Service Jobs and Democracy," 16 Aug. 2019

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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The first known use of proletariat was in 1847

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Cite this Entry

“Proletariat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

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