Talk:Hoi polloi

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Former good articleHoi polloi was one of the Language and literature good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
January 24, 2006Featured article candidateNot promoted
June 16, 2006Good article nomineeListed
July 13, 2006Featured article candidateNot promoted
July 29, 2009Good article reassessmentDelisted
Current status: Delisted good article
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Misuse to mean "upper class"[edit]

The misuse to mean "upper class" has been mildly challenged. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition usage note supports the existence of the common misuse, though is not the source. -- Bitt 00:10, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Could we cite the source for this misuse in the main article? Personally I had never heard the word misused in this way, and thought maybe the author was confused with "hoity-toity." -- 13:41, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The links that are supposed to be evidence of this misuse don't work or don't retrieve anything that refers to it. I've never heard this misuse either so I don't understand why the Wikipedia article refers to it. Maybe somebody somewhere didn't know what "hoi polloi" meant and was confused by it, but who cares? 22:51, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

uh, the three stooges misused it that way in 1935. And Larry King's use of the term to describe the sport of polo, also discussed in the article may qualify as a misuse; I think its debatable that such a vox populi as Larry King would not be asserting his i'm-so-common brand aspects by using "hoi polloi" in its popular (three stooges, dammit!) sense of "those who use the term 'hoi polloi' to mean 'masses'" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Minitrue (talkcontribs) 01:46, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't see why the occasional misuse of a word should be included in a WP article. Especially since there are no very good references for this. I suggest removing it, and will do so unless there are reasons advanced for not doing so. Cooke (talk) 22:52, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
I think that "Also, the phrase has at times been used to mean the exact opposite of its originally intended meaning," as the article says now, is sufficient. I've heard the misuse of the term, but the article needn't dwell on anything but the correct use. Alpheus (talk) 20:59, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

I vote to keep this note and paragraph. Apparently, I've been confused all my life on this, thinking hoi polloi was referring to rich opinion makers! Who knows where i got this from but evidently there is enough confusion out there and i must have picked up on it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:25, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Slate's recent article might be of use, including 'hoi polloi' in its list of misused terms Biasedbulldog (talk) 19:15, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

It was surprised to hear someone on a TV documentary use hoi polloi to refer to the many. My immediate thought was that they were wrong. At about the same time my friend let out the same exclamation. We both immediately went to the web and both of us were amazed to realize our misuse for about fifty years. My background was working class Scotland. My father was a coal miner and when he referred to the hoi polloi it meant those who might have played polo or at the least employed a butler to get by in life. My friend is from a middle class Australian background, father being school headmaster, and she has a doctorate in sociology. Her experience of the meaning of hoi polloi was the same as mine. We are both from different parts of the world having different backgrounds and yet we had the same interpretation.

Language changes over time. When I was a young man an adult I was with was suddenly overcome with dizziness. He said, “I feel queer,” and he sat down until he had recovered. That would not be something most people would say today. We might read of a “terrific” fire or car accident in the newspaper and know the meaning to be horrifying which is not to be confused by you see a terrific newly released blockbuster movie. Same word different meaning. Walking though the mall you might overhear a sixteen year old say the word “sick” and you might not know whether they were talking about another really good movie, the health of one of their friends, or whether the stomach contents of one of their friends had just found their way to the floor. I hope alternative meaning of the word sick never becomes accepted usage, but queer, gay, terrific are all there.

The meanings of words are reinforced by the people who use them. Hoi polloi is not a well used term. The people who use it with different interpretations are unlikely to meet; polo players are unlikely to rub shoulders with coal miners. It’s possible that both usages will remain, neither one being wrong. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:37, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

Dictionary article?[edit]

Would this not be better as a wiktionary article?—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 18:17, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

I agree. I wish i knew how to nominate a page for moving. --Orthografer 01:20, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
I believe there is enough encyclopedic content here for this to merit inclusion in the encyclopedia. Johntex\talk 01:31, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

Idiom list or English phrases category[edit]

Does this article belong in any of these? I can find no phrases borrowed from other languages on those pages. Nor is it listed in the Wictionary idioms category. meco 17:12, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but I don't understand the question. To which pages are referring when you say "those pages"? Thanks, Johntex\talk 18:06, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

List_of_idioms_in_the_English_language and Category:English phrases was what I was thinking of. The latter is perhaps illogical since Hoi Polloi is obviously a Greek expression, but I figured it should perhaps also be classified as an English phrase. The parallell to Latin phrases is alluring, but they are a gazillion whereas Hoi Polloi is virtually alone (and lost) in its Greek phrases category. meco 18:50, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, I understand your question now. I think a case could be made for Category:English phrases since the phrase is used in English. I don't think the phrase qualifies as an idiom since it means pretty much what the Greek words themselves mean. True, there is a nuance of meaning there that is not neccessarily obvious, but I am not sure that qualifies it to be considered an idiom in the way that "all hat and no cattle" or "a few fries short of a happy meal" would be idioms. You may also want to post your question to those category talk pages, as I don't think this page gets that much traffic. Best, Johntex\talk 19:00, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Problem with footnotes[edit]

Seems to be a problem with footnotes from #5 onwards. I don't know how to fix them. Nurg 04:15, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, I'll go through and fix them when I have a bit more time. Johntex\talk 14:37, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
Forgot to mention - I fixed them. Johntex\talk 01:08, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

Middle America[edit]

Surley A More World Wide Definition Than "Middle America" Would Be Better Understood —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 18:38, 18 January 2007 (UTC).

Well, that's one of 14 synonyms listed. They are all supported by the source and listed in the order provided by the source, which seems to best order to me. Perhaps you would like to consider one of the other 13 in forming your udnerstanding? Johntex\talk 06:14, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
As it's decidedly an unhelpful addition to the article, I'm going to delete it and replace it with an ellipsis. The quotation will just start two words later. --Dweller 15:56, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Gospel band[edit]

"Alternative gospel band Hoi Polloi was formed in New Zealand by vocalist Jenny Gullen, her husband, bassist Andrew Horst, guitarist David Ball and drummer Jozsef Fityus. Moving to the U.S., Hoi Polloi performed their first gig at the 1990 Cornerstone Festival and signed to the gospel label Reunion soon after. A restrictive contract, however, forced the band into two albums that overly polished their rugged, rootsy sound, Hoi Polloi (1992) and Spin Me (1993). Ball and Fityus returned to the homeland in 1994, forcing the recruitment of New Zealand native Scott Pearson on drums and American guitarist Troy Daugherty. In mid-1995, Hoi Polloi released Happy Ever After; its single "Tiptoe" spent eight weeks at the top of the Christian rock charts, and the album crossed over to college and commercial-alternative radio. ~ John Bush, All Music Guide"

The section on "Other Uses" contained rather too much detail on the Hoi Polloi band. I removed it, but I'll add it here in case someone decides to create an article on the band and could find the info useful. Galanskov 08:03, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Is the image used insulting?[edit]

I'm not one to jump on the PC bandwagon in general, but in this case I find the picture to be innappropriate. The reasons that come to mind, once I start down that PC path, include the declaration that they are hoi polloi but the use of "perceived" in "perceived maltreatment" and that they are developing world people rather than westerners, since westerners make up most of Wikipedia's users - I can only imagine the response if the image showed protesting U.S. minorities, assuming someone noticed it. Now, all this hinges on the term being significantly derogatory, as I understand it to be. However, I'm not going to change it since I realize it might not have the connotations I have assumed it does (I suspect originally it was just descriptive), and because I can't think of an image to replace it with, let alone have one to use, not that every article must have an image. Any thoughts? --Fitzhugh 01:36, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

The use of the word "perceived" in the caption to the photograph is sarcastic and demeaning. I assume this is vandalism.Tudhaliya 19:22, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

I also think the caption is inappropriate, and I'm not sure there is any great need for an image in this article anyway. A famous painting or something with "hoi polloi" in the name might make sense, but just taking an image of protesters and calling them "hoi polloi" seems to add a political slant to the article. Personally I think it would be better to have no image than one of this type. The image and caption were added last june in this edit by User:Johntex, who did a lot of work on this article, so I don't think it's a case of vandalism. Johntex apparently is still an active contributor so I'll mention this discussion on his talk page.--Eloil 17:58, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

  • Hi Eloil, thanks for contacting me about this discussion. I did add the image and the caption and I certainly don't think there is anything inappropriate about it at all. I used the word "perceived" because it is in fact a matter of a person's perception whether they are being maltreated or not. To simply remove the word "perceived" would be to take the side of the protesters that they are correct in their assertions. If you don't like the word "perceived" we could use say something like "The hoi polloi march in a protest for more rights" or something to that effect. Johntex\talk 16:57, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Also, Fitzhugh, this has nothing to do with minorities. The people in that photo are in the ethnic majority in the nation where they live. Hoi polloi is about class, not race. Johntex\talk 17:37, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Hearing no complaints, I have updated the capture to say, "The Hoi Polloi march in a protest for more rights." Johntex\talk 19:21, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
It is an interesting choice to use as hoi polloi. It certainly could easily be interpreted negatively, as an implicit slight on protesters. It really depends on the definition in mind, and informs on how those that see protesters in this way understand, or at least are using in this instance, the term. It could be unintentional and not intended as a slight. Does hoi polloi simply mean the many? Clearly, protesters are the many, in that they're common people, not in power (whether or not mainstream --protests can be radical or pervasive). So it can fit as an example under this general definition. But, if they were empowered they needn't protest. The way I've understood the term is more in line with the hysterical, uneducated masses; not the aware thus discontented (and protesting) yet outsider. Non-hoi polloi, the ruling class, are an elite, insular group. Those people would view the uppity protesters as hoi polloi. We can agree that it has to do with status, with socioeconomic class. I don't think it's the most general, common, or applicable example of hoi polloi, but I suppose I have no severe problem with it. Opposed, I am not, to a better example, however. Any use of the term is derogatory whether it be to protests, huge sporting events, or whatever, maybe I'm splitting hairs. Evolauxia 04:48, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't think the picture is much good, and it could be construed as POV. Also, I question the capitalization, namely 'Hoi Polloi', in its caption. Alpheus (talk) 21:02, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

to me, it seems offending against those people. by using this picture, you say that they're "the many" (and hoi polloi is certainly not neutral), so it's like you were saying "look at the masses protesting again" in a very condescinding way. so i think the picture is really not appropriate, no matter what you write under it. --Jimynu (talk) 12:06, 5 July 2008 (UTC)


I've never come across the English pronunciation "ho-ee poll-oo-ee". It's "hoy puh-loy", to rhyme with toy. My dictionary agrees. 17:46, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

And this is exactly what the article says.--   Avg    17:52, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

I think "hoy pull-oy" (apologies for amateurish phonetics attempt) might be more accurate. By adding the l to the first syllable, then you get the double syllable effect, as in Greek (what some might call"ancient" Greek); with the l attached to the second syllable it becomes a single l. Just a thought...Professor J Lawrence (talk) 12:01, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

How do you pronounce "two Ls" differently from one? Surely there's not a STOP in between. You go into the L sound, and you come out of it, regardless of where it's attached or how many there are. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:18, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
In many languages (though not in English), a double or long consonant is audibly distinguished from a single or short one—not by a stop in between, but simply by being held longer. --Smeazel (talk) 20:44, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

There shouldn't be a stress accent on the Ancient Greek Pronunciation since a pitch accent was used instead. ΠΑΕ.ΠΑΟΚ ₯ (talk) 20:46, 20 August 2011 (UTC)


I was surprised to find so many 19th century usages listed in the article, but no mention of Dryden's use in Dramatick Poesie, which to the best of my knowledge is the earliest use of the term in the English language.

I wasn't sure if it warranted a separate section just for that, so I added a sentence to the end of 19th century section. If anyone wants to rearrange the structure, be my guest. The text of Dramatick Poesie is available online. Follow the link to the wiki article and you'll find a link to the text at the bottom. Go there and search "hoi polloi" and you'll find the sentence in question. It's in ¶108. Iglew (talk) 10:57, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

GA Reassessment[edit]

This discussion is transcluded from Talk:Hoi polloi/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the reassessment.

GA onhold.svg This article has been reviewed as part of Wikipedia:WikiProject Good articles/Project quality task force in an effort to ensure all listed Good articles continue to meet the Good article criteria. In reviewing the article, I have found there are some issues that may need to be addressed, listed below. I will check back in seven days. If these issues are addressed, the article will remain listed as a Good article. Otherwise, it may be delisted (such a decision may be challenged through WP:GAR). If improved after it has been delisted, it may be nominated at WP:GAN. Feel free to drop a message on my talk page if you have any questions, and many thanks for all the hard work that has gone into this article thus far.

GA review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
    Parts of the article appear more as lists than coherent prose.
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
    The references mostly seem reliable enough, but the formatting needs a lot of work. There are also sections like "Keating's tone makes clear that he considers this statement to be an insult." Without referencing this comes across as original research.
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
    There is absolutely nothing on the phrase's use in classical literature, which is absolutely essential to the article. Instead, pretty much everything from "Appearances in the 20th Century" down is basically a list of "In popular culture", which is discouraged on Wikipedia. Also, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term was first used in English by John Dryden in 1668 (Of dramatick poesie, an essay).[1] This isn't mentioned at all.
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
  7. Overall:
    Lampman (talk) 13:49, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
Since no significant improvements have been made to the article over the last week, I will now delist it. Lampman (talk) 14:08, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Redundant English article, "the"[edit]

The article mentions that there's some debate over whether the English article, "the", is redundant or not. Surely a better reference for the debate can be found than a Google Fight? Like, perhaps, a link to a prominent debate? I believe this is well represented by the snarky entry in the Online Etymology Dictionary [2], but as a better might be found (say, in Oxford), I'll leave off editing.--Rfsmit (talk) 19:53, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

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The Pronunciation in America is Really From the Three Stooges[edit]

The normal pronunciation would be /oi póloi/, not /hoi pəlói/. neither the /h/ needed to be pronouncde, nor the greek accent ever used.

Does "Basket of Deplorables" need to be first on the synonym list?[edit]

It seems like a deliberate political move to have a one-time statement at the top of a list for common synonyms, especially following "express the same or similar distaste for the common people felt by those who believe themselves to be superior." Obviously Clinton's statement was offensive to many people, and I agree that it fits the bill, but it's not exactly a common turn of phrase. Furthermore, it also ascribes the statement to feelings of superiority, which has certainly been argued by many, when Clinton herself immediately followed it by saying "They're racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic – Islamophobic – you name it." At any point, none of us are here to condemn or defend Hillary Clinton, and this seems like condemnation.

Perhaps we could put a link to the "Basket of Deplorables" article in the "see also" section? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Flyest nihilist (talkcontribs) 02:21, 12 April 2019 (UTC)