“Hoi Polloi” Meaning, and How Do You Use this Idiomatic Phrase?

You may hear the term ‘hoi polloi’ used in an English conversation, but what does this phrase mean? We will take a look at the meaning of this term and how it can be used effectively in a conversation. We will also look at the history behind the phrase and where it came from in the first place.

Hoi Polloi

“Hoi Polloi” Definition

When someone refers to the ‘hoi polloi’ they are talking about people they see as common or below them in the social hierarchy.

Origin of this idiomatic phrase

The idiom ‘hoi polloi’ comes from the Greek language and directly translates to English as ‘the masses.’

“Hoi Polloi” Examples

Examples in Statements

This is a statement made by a prince.

  • ‘I am not looking forward to this event, it will be just me and the hoi polloi.’

The next statement is one made by a newspaper reporter.

  • ‘The festival was not one aimed at the high class members of society but more for the hoi polloi.’

Other examples:

  • They had little faith that the hoi polloi would very soon be using computers.
  • They helped keep the 3.800 delegates and alternates, more than 90 percent white, from the hoi polloi.
  • Monstrously inflated costs are designed to keep the hoi polloi at bay.
  • Anthony will be in the VIP lounge where he doesn’t have to mix with the hoi polloi.

Conversation Examples

If you are curious to see how the term ‘hoi polloi’ would work in a conversation, here are some examples to show how it would fit in.

The first conversation is taking place between a mother and daughter.

  • Person 1: “You cannot go to that party this weekend.”
  • Person 2: “Why not?”
  • Person 1: “Because it will just be full of hoi polloi, you are better than that.”

This next conversation features two friends discussing an upcoming event.

  • Person 1: “Are you going to go to the awards weekend?”
  • Person 2: “No, I don’t think I will, are you?”
  • Person 1: “Definitely not, it’s going to be full of hoi polloi.”

Other Ways to Say the Phrase

There are other ways in which you can express the meaning of the term ‘hoi polloi.’ Here are a few examples of other things you could say.

  • The great unwashed
  • The masses
  • Commoners

What Does “Hoi Polloi” Mean? | Picture

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