working class

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working class (plural working classes)

  1. The social class of those who perform physical work for a living, as opposed to the professional or middle class, the upper class, or others.
    Synonym: proletariat
    Coordinate terms: lower class, middle class, professional class, upper class, upper middle class
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter XIII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      And Vickers launched forth into a tirade very different from his platform utterances. He spoke with extreme contempt of the dense stupidity exhibited on all occasions by the working classes. He said that if you wanted to do anything for them, you must rule them, not pamper them.
    • 2012, Andrew Martin, Underground Overground: A passenger's history of the Tube, Profile Books, →ISBN, page 47:
      It may seem that the Met was a snobbish outfit, a betrayer of the egalitarian dreams of Charles Pearson, but in being one of the pioneers of working men's fares the company had helped to bring about a revolution that would allow the working classes to live in London. Cheap trains would supersede Gladstone's well-meant Parliamentary Trains.



working class (comparative more working class, superlative most working class) (usually working-class before noun)

  1. Alternative spelling of working-class

Usage notes[edit]

The term working class is often used according to cultural rather than strict socio-economic criteria. It can be politically charged or neutral. Similarly, it can be derogatory, neutral, or positive.