Trump: Den of Thieves and 'Lowlifes'
Lowlife took a spin in the high life on April 13th, 2018, as the word found itself in the unfamiliar position of riding atop our lookups. The word was helped to this position by Donald Trump using it in a tweet.
We define lowlife as either “a person of low social status” or “a person of low moral character.” The word has also been used to refer to “low social status” collectively since the early 18th century.
Whoever takes delight in viewing the various Scenes of low Life, may on Easter, Whitsun, and other great Holidays, meet with scores of People, especially Women, of almost the lowest Rank, that wear good and fashionable Cloaths.
— Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees, 1728
The sense particular to a person of low moral character appears to have entered our language around the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries. While the word was initially found most often as an open compound (low life), it has, as is the habit of such creatures, become closed over time, and is now typically found as lowlife. The plural is most commonly lowlifes, but lowlives is accepted as well.