Word of the Week Wednesday: hoi polloi

Today I’m starting a new feature on this blog: Word of the Week Wednesday.

Each Wednesday, I will present a word or phrase that has special significance or meaning for me, or which I just think is cool.

This week’s word is: hoi polloi

Hoi polloi means “the masses” in a fairly derogatory way, as in “the great unwashed”.

This phrase sticks with me because I have a friend who I correct about once a year when she uses it to mean “the elite” or snobbish people.  One of the things I love most about my friend is that she doesn’t take offense at being corrected and, in fact, is grateful for it.

Whether she appreciates it being posted in public remains to be seen.  Hopefully she does.  Love ya, boo.

I believe the confusion probably comes from the phrase sounding like hoity toity, which actually does mean “pretentious” or “haughty”.

Hopefully, I don’t come across as hoity toity for insisting on the correct usage of hoi polloi.



About Dan Kingsepp, ACS, ALS
I'm starting this blog to share my thought on the use of the English language and my experiences as a Toastmaster.

3 Responses to Word of the Week Wednesday: hoi polloi

  1. Jen says:


    Well…since you made me *snort* aloud when I read this post…I would go ahead with the assumption that I am not offended : ) (perhaps even secretly flattered to have made your blog!)

    And, at least, my hoi polloi issue isn’t as embarrassing as my “you’ve got serious canejos!” which I used for YEARS thinking I was saying “you’ve got serious cojones!” The great thing about the canejos/cojones debacle was that I actually passed that one along to friends and had them saying it incorrectly too! 🙂

  2. I actually kinda of like “you’ve got serious conejos!” better (although I don’t think I remember you saying it). It would translate to: “you’ve got serious rabbits!” Which is just hilariously surreal. I may have to start slipping that into conversation:

    “Hey buddy! Just try to start something, if you think you’ve got the rabbits for it!”

  3. Pingback: Word of the Week Wednesday: egregious « On Language

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: