parvenu

noun

par·​ve·​nu ˈpär-və-ˌnü How to pronounce parvenu (audio)
-ˌnyü
plural parvenus ˈpär-və-ˌn(y)üz How to pronounce parvenu (audio)
: one that has recently or suddenly risen to an unaccustomed position of wealth or power and has not yet gained the prestige, dignity, or manner associated with it
parvenu adjective

Did you know?

French has been generous in providing us with terms for obscure folks who suddenly strike it rich. In addition to parvenu, French has loaned us nouveau riche, arriviste, and roturier, all of which can describe a rich person of plebeian origins, especially one who is a bit snobby. Those colorful and slightly disparaging terms for the newly moneyed clearly show their French heritage, but it may be harder to see the French background of a term Massachusetts locals once used for coastal merchants made rich through the fishing trade: codfish aristocracy. Codfish comes from Middle English (beyond that its origin is a mystery), but aristocracy passed into English via Middle French (it is ultimately from Greek aristos, meaning "best").

Examples of parvenu in a Sentence

the kind of trophy house that a parvenu buys to prove to people, and to himself, that he has indeed arrived
Recent Examples on the Web In 1952, backed by little more than his reputation as a war hero and a fortune staked by his parvenu father, 35-year-old John F. Kennedy swiped a Senate seat from Republican Henry Cabot Lodge, himself a wealthy combat veteran. Kevin Mahnken, The New Republic, 1 Sep. 2020 Raveendran, at least on paper, assumes his place among those parvenus thanks to his effort in internet education. Saritha Rai, Fortune, 29 July 2019 Well, rejecting the pretensions of the peacocking parvenu is one of the sweetest pleasures left to the fallen aristocrat. Lili Anolik, Vanities, 19 June 2017

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

Word History

Etymology

French, from past participle of parvenir to arrive, from Latin pervenire, from per through + venire to come — more at for, come

First Known Use

1787, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of parvenu was in 1787

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near parvenu

Cite this Entry

“Parvenu.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/parvenu. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on parvenu

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!