Definition of plebeian in English:

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Pronunciation: /plɪˈbiːən/


1(In ancient Rome) a commoner.
Example sentences
  • In ancient Rome clients were plebeians who were bound in a subservient relationship with their patrician patron.
  • After all, plebeians in ancient Rome were forced to fight against one another - the games of death were hardly an insurrectionary force on their own.
  • In 494 B.C., the plebeians threatened to leave Rome and set up their own independent state (concilium plebis).
1.1A member of the lower social classes: the feeling was shared by plebeians, gentry, and clergy
More example sentences
  • Long after the autumn of 1880, far more plebeians than patricians experienced the pain of this communal punishment.
  • Sharp divisions are established by law between patricians and plebeians.
  • It had nothing to do with militarism or with the violent sports that had brought aristocrats and plebeians together around the prize-fight or cock-fight.
proletarian, commoner, common person, man/woman/person in the street, working-class person, worker, working person;
informal, derogatory pleb, prole


1Of or belonging to the commoners of ancient Rome.
Example sentences
  • In the larger cities (above all Rome and Ostia) there were also examples of more plebeian housing, generally small in size and located on the first floor of the large residences that occupied entire city blocks.
  • He was plebeian aedile 199 and praetor 198, when he may have carried the Porcian law which extended the right of provocatio (appeal to the people against the action of a magistrate) to cases of scourging.
  • Plebeian children would follow in the career of their parents.
1.1Of or belonging to the lower social classes: two dancers, one royal and one plebeian
More example sentences
  • Yet the book itself is also ‘low-descended’ - modest in its stylistic pretensions and happy to risk a plebeian status as an unrefined work.
  • Yet he seems oblivious to the fact that he is out of his element in the vulgar, plebeian world of the Victorian stage.
  • For the moment then, the TV executive who discriminated against me because of my plebeian roots is probably safe to continue discriminating against other cheeky upstarts.
lower-class, low-class, working-class, proletarian, common, peasant, mean, humble, lowly, low, of low birth, low-born, low-ranking, ignoble, undistinguished
archaic baseborn
1.2Lacking in refinement: he is a man of plebeian tastes
More example sentences
  • Throughout the meal, the footmen had been replenishing wine bottles and refreshing beer glasses with brisk regularity, the steady supply of alcohol charging the expectant atmosphere with a soupçon of ruddy-faced plebeian rowdiness.
  • It is terrible, this aggressively plebeian culture that celebrates itself for being plebeian.
  • Nothing bought matches the home-chosen, home-grown and freshly picked, from the exotic - bursting figs and peaches - down to the plebeian potato.
uncultured, uncultivated, unrefined, lowbrow, philistine, uneducated, unpolished, provincial, rustic;
coarse, uncouth, crass, common, vulgar, base, boorish, gross
informal plebby
British informal non-U
rare illiberal


Mid 16th century: from Latin plebeius (from plebs, pleb- 'the common people') + -an.

  • This is based on Latin plebeius, from plebs, ‘the common people’, as opposed to the more aristocratic patricians who were the ‘fathers of their country’, getting their name from Latin pater ‘father’ (source of other words such as paternal (Late Middle English)). The same base is shared by plebiscite from the same period.

Words that rhyme with plebeian

Actaeon, Aegean, aeon (US eon), Augean, Behan, Cadmean, Caribbean, Carolean, Chaldean, Cyclopean, empyrean, epicurean, European, Fijian, Galilean, Hasmonean, Hebridean, Herculean, Ian, Jacobean, Kampuchean, Laodicean, lien, Linnaean (US Linnean), Maccabean, Mandaean (US Mandean), Medicean, monogenean, Nabataean (US Nabatean), Orphean, paean, paeon, pean, peon, Periclean, piscean, Pyrenean, Pythagorean, Sabaean, Sadducean, Sisyphean, skean, Tanzanian, Tennesseean, Terpsichorean, theodicean, Tyrolean

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ple|beian

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