Talk:hoi polloi

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What is disputed about the "elite" sense[edit]

What on Earth is "disputed" about the second definition? If that sense were to be nominated with {{rfv-sense}}, an embarrassing high number of citations would (ultimately) be provided. --Connel MacKenzie 15:04, 20 July 2006 (UTC)

That may or may not be true, but if it is it would be as a result of common ignorance amongst hoi polloi. Using hoi polloi to mean the élite is absurd and makes the word so ambiguous as to be useless. Doremítzwr 17:49, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
That may be both of our's opinion, but it is refuted by actual use. --Connel MacKenzie 17:51, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
Hmm. Where is the forum in which this issue ought to be raised in order to prevent similar absurdities in future? Doremítzwr 18:30, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
The use meaning "the elite" is certainly incorrect, regardless of how common it is. The fact that many people repeat an error does not make it correct, but it does make the error noteworthy. What is there to argue about? Silarius 17:37, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
I suppose it will save some space deleting all the Romance languages from the server as erroneous Latin.--Prosfilaes (talk) 17:17, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
Of note: a cursory look at a few print dictionaries finds nary a one that includes elite (which is an antonym; can a word be its own antonym, even with extensive usage?). The second definition here belongs in the usage notes, not in the definitions. See effect and affect for a similar scenario; they are exceedingly frequently used in place of one another in terms of actual use, but that doesn't mean they are each additional definitions of the other. —This unsigned comment was added by Willpie (talkcontribs).
Contranyms are such words. The misuse is more common than the "correct" use. The concept of "notability" applies to Wikipedia; here we are concerned mainly with "use" instead. If you wish to dispute it, you can tag the definition with {{rfv-sense}}. --Connel MacKenzie 16:14, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
The misuse is by no stretch of the imagination more common than the correct use; but it does occur, possibly even in print. Angr 11:22, 3 August 2008 (UTC)


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Rfv-sense "élite". See Talk:hoi polloi for more. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 06:01, 30 September 2013 (UTC)

Widespread (mis)use in speech. This is among the 100 best-documented examples of misuse of borrowed terms. I suppose we won't be able to put this to bed until there are citations and a tedious usage note. DCDuring TALK 13:11, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
No, we won't. Speaking for myself, while I have often heard/read people complain about the misuse of hoi polloi to mean "élite" rather than "rabble", I have only very rarely actually encountered it being misused that way. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 13:30, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
You need to get out among the common people more ;-}.
Cited IMHO. DCDuring TALK 14:10, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
I've never heard it misused this way either, though I have encountered a lot of people who like to jump gleefully on "the hoi polloi" as an unforgivable error. Oddly enough I've never heard anybody object to "the algebra" (see etymology). Equinox 16:38, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
Nope, nor "the apricot" either. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 16:55, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
MWDEU (1985) spills only half as much ink about this definition as about use with the, but say "this sense of hoi polloi is extremely common in speech" and "testimony [] strongly suggests that this sense of hoi polloi may now be more widely known and frequently used than the older, etymologically accurate sense."
Garner's (2005) rates it an error. DCDuring TALK 18:41, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps the dead hand of classical education for the aristocracy et al has retarded language change in the UK? DCDuring TALK 18:43, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
You may be right. (It took the OED 242 years to recognise that literally is a synonym for metaphorically.) I've never heard the opposite sense, though it might have developed from old University slang meaning those who obtained only a pass degree (without honours). I don't think Noël Coward's search for a rhyme is convincing evidence of contrary usage, but I'm surprised that so many modern writers can be cited for the reversed sense. Dbfirs 22:38, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
I operate under weak influence of the dead hand, but there is no denying that it has minimal influence on spoken language in the US. For example, the classical language plurals of words borrowed from those languages don't stand a chance here against regular English plural forms in the spoken language. It seems that the least bit of similarity of a classical borrowing to a more familiar term (in this case, high and hoity-toity) can lead to reanalysis of the term. DCDuring TALK 23:46, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
re: Noel Coward cite. I generally don't like poetry, song, or excessively 'literary' works for any Englsih citations because the meaning is often ambiguous. I thought there might be some usage in the 30s because of the rising influence of socialist thought and glorification of the working class in the mainstream but his was the only one I found in books. DCDuring TALK 23:52, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
Whether there's a dead hand at play or not, the term does seem to have been amply cited by DCDuring. The 1992, 2010, 2011 citations in particular look solid. - -sche (discuss) 21:06, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
RFV-passed. - -sche (discuss) 21:15, 21 October 2013 (UTC)