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Nov 16, 2006
This week's theme
Words with a built-in definite article

This week's words
alchemy
lariat
albatross
hoi polloi
amalgam

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

hoi polloi

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

hoi polloi (hoi puh-LOI) noun

The common people, the masses.

[From Greek hoi polloi (the many).]

See more usage examples of hoi polloi in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

The phrase is often mistakenly used to refer to the elite or the snobbish, quite opposite of what it really means. That usage arises probably from the first part sounding similar to "high" or from confusion with the term hoity toity.

The term often appears as "the hoi polloi". Some pedants object to that construction, claiming "the" is already part of the term. If you find such people, tell them to go study gebra and drink cohol.

"Fans were delighted to see their heroes riding with the hoi polloi."
Tom Parfitt; Spartak in Subway Sprint; Guardian (London, UK); Nov 1, 2006.

X-Bonus

As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, American writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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