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Alternative forms[edit]


one + percent +‎ -er. After Thomas Edison: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." The motorcycling sense comes from a supposed 1948 statement by the American Motorcycle Association that ninety-nine percent of motorcyclists are good people enjoying a clean sport, and it is only one percent who are antisocial barbarians.


one-percenter (plural one-percenters)

  1. A member of the top one percent of a population by wealth, ability, etc. (same as the ninety-ninth percentile), especially in a society with high wealth inequality.
    • 2000, E. Ray Canterbery, Wall Street Capitalism: The Theory of the Bondholding Class, page 138:
      An upper one-percenter in the income and wealth distributions, Rubin commuted by private jet between the tony Jefferson Hotel in Washington and his Park home in New York.
    • 2002, Bill Press, Spin This!: All the Ways We Don't Tell the Truth, page 17:
      When critics pointer out that the bulk of his tax cut went to the wealthiest one percent of American [] , after Bush got finished spinning, it's amazing how many Americans ended up feeling sorry for those poor, deprived one percenters.
    • 2004, George Black, The Trout Pool Paradox: The American Lives of Three Rivers, page 204:
      "But a few survive, those with the right genetic trait, the one-percenters that will carry on and reproduce that trait."
    • 2006, David Weber, In Fury Born:
      [Y]ou've been one of the "one-percenters." You've always been in that rarefied top one percent of the people doing whatever you were doing at any given moment in your life.
    • 2018, Oliver Bullough, quoting Bradley Birkenfeld, chapter 17, in Moneyland, Profile Books, →ISBN, page 243:
      I'd perfected my game, flying first-class all over the world, staying in five-star resort hotels, and seducing scores of one-percenters into stashing their fortunes in Swiss numbered accounts, no questions asked.
  2. (comedy) An esoteric joke which is unlikely to be appreciated by a general audience.
  3. One who seeks or is granted honor far greater than their perceived contribution would warrant.
  4. One who wishes to be recognized for an idea without putting forth the "ninety-nine percent perspiration" needed to implement that idea.
  5. An outlaw biker, such as a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club.
    • 1991, Daniel R. Wolf, The Rebels: A Brotherhood of Outlaw Bikers, page 272:
      The patch holders themselves recognize that within the framework of the club there exists a radical faction - "the heavies" or "one percenters".
    • 2002, Chuck Zito, Street Justice, page 106:
      It was Sonny's idea to ally the various clubs under a diamond-shaped "one-percenter" patch. He took it a step further by becoming the first Hells Angel to have the famous "one-percenter" drawn on his arm.
    • 2004, Karen Larsen, Breaking the Limit: One Woman's Motorcycle Journey Through North America, page 271:
      There is, without a doubt, the "one-percenter" subculture consisting of individuals who are social renegades in the criminal sense.

Further reading[edit]