Pronounced: coin (alt: kwoin), noun
Notes: This is a pretty short word to contain neither an ‘a’ or an ‘e’.
The word bourgeois, as a noun means
- a member of the middle class
- one who exhibits behavior in conformity to the conventions of the middle class
- a member of the capitalist class (in Marxist theory)
As an adjective, it means
- belonging to the middle class
- marked by a concern for respectability and material interests
- mediocre or unimaginative: lacking artistic refinement
This word came into English in the mid-1500s (yes, way back then!)
Background / Comments
When I see our word, I think of the first definitions given above (middle class). Therefore, the adjectival second and third definitions (especially the third) was a surprise to me. I am not well-versed in Marxist theory, so I didn’t know that this word was also used for a member of the capitalist class. In addition to all of that, I associate this word with Marxist theory and communist Russia, so I was very surprised to see that it goes back as far as it does. As you can guess by the spelling, our word comes from the French word bourgeois, which comes from the Latin word burgus (fortress; fortified town).