Aaron Copland's Fanfare For the Common Man premiered on this day in 1943

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HOI (hoy)

Hoi polloi: The common people; the masses

Common clue: ___ polloi; Polloi preceder

Crossword puzzle frequency: 2 times a year

Frequency in English language: 67867 / 86800

News: The Hoi Poloi v. Goldman Sachs

Video: Fanfare For the Common Man

Hoi polloi, an expression meaning "the many" (literally: "the citizens") in Greek is used in English to denote "the masses" or "the people", usually in a derogatory sense. For example, "I've secured a private box for the play so we don't have to watch the show with hoi polloi." Synonyms for "hoi polloi" include "...commoners, great unwashed, minions, multitude, plebeians, proletariat, rabble, rank and file, riffraff, the common people, the herd, the many, the masses, the peons, the working class".

The phrase became known to English scholars probably from Pericles' Funeral Oration, as mentioned in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. Pericles uses it in a positive way when praising the Athenian democracy, contrasting it with hoi oligoi, "the few".

Its current English usage originated in the early 19th century, a time when it was generally accepted one must know Greek and Latin in order to be well educated. The phrase was originally written in Greek letters. Knowledge of these languages would serve to set apart the speaker from the common people who did not have that education.

The phrase has been the source of controversy over its correct usage. There has been debate as to whether it is correct usage to include the English article "the" in front of the phrase, as is commonly done.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Hoi polloi".