sans·​cu·​lotte ˌsanz-ku̇-ˈlät How to pronounce sansculotte (audio)
: an extreme radical republican in France at the time of the French Revolution
: a radical or violent extremist in politics
sansculottic adjective
sansculottish adjective
sansculottism noun

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At the time of the French Revolution (1787-1799), knee breeches (culottes in French) were the height of fashion for aristocratic men. The men of the general populace could not afford such impractical finery and instead wore the pantaloon (long trousers). When the poorer classes rose up against the government, members of the Revolutionary army used this difference in dress to distinguish themselves from the aristocracy, calling themselves "soldats sans culottes," literally, "soldiers without culottes." Almost immediately, sansculotte became a noun in both French and English.

Examples of sansculotte in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Its Second Republic, following the Paris uprising of 1848—one led by the children of the sansculottes, an armed working class—lasted only three years, dissipating in Bonapartist restoration. Christopher Ketcham, Harper's magazine, 22 July 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sansculotte.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French sans-culotte, literally, without breeches

First Known Use

1790, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sansculotte was in 1790


Dictionary Entries Near sansculotte

Cite this Entry

“Sansculotte.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jun. 2024.

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