Friday, September 21, 2012

Plebs ??!! - Andrew Mitchell's Pleblem

Here is the Sept 21, 2012 headline from The Telegraph, UK on-line:

"Andrew Mitchell police row: Why has the word 'pleb' caused such outrage? Andrew Mitchell has been accused of calling a bunch of Downing Street policemen “plebs” but what does the word actually mean?"

So, what did the UK's Secretary of State for International Development mean exactly?

According to The Telegraph:

".... Critics of Mr Mitchell are particularly upset about his alleged use of the word “pleb”. They have seized on the term as a sign that Mr Mitchell was deploying a class-based insult. This is because the term is a short form of “plebeian” – the Latin word for people of the lower classes. It was originally derived from the Latin word plere, meaning “to fill up” or the Greek word for crowd, plethos. Both theories conjure up images of an unruly mob. Ancient Roman plebeians were often merchants or small businessmen with a fair amount of power. They were neither slaves, nor the ruling “patricians”, just ordinary citizens.

However, in today’s language, the word “pleb” has taken on further connotations of coarse and vulgar. The term has since become common parlance in public schools, such as the prestigious Rugby School where Mr Mitchell was educated. In this context, it is used to mean a pupil who does not come from the gentry ...."

With the recent killing of two policewomen, Mr. Mitchell should have been more sensitive with his attitude towards police officers. Instead, he has created a problem for himself and his party!!! Plebs, you say?

Photo Caption/Credit: "Ugh, Plebs!! No, we cannot invite the Symingtons. Way below our class. They insist on buttering their own bread!!" (Source:

Supplementary info:

".... The plebs were the general body of free land-owning Roman citizens (as distinguished from slaves and the capite censi) in Ancient Rome. They were the non-aristocratic class of Rome, and consisted of freed people, shopkeepers, crafts people, skilled or unskilled workers and farmers. Members of the plebs were also distinct from the higher order of the patricians. A member of the plebs was known as a plebeian ( /plɨˈbiːən/; Latin: plebeius). This term is used today to refer to one who is or appears to be of the middle or lower order; however, in Rome plebeians could become quite wealthy and influential. .....

Modern usage: In Great Britain, Canada, France, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South African English pleb is a back-formation, in Dutch it is plebs; a derogatory term for someone thought of as inferior, common or ignorant. The term is often, though not always, synonymous with prole. plebby is a more recent derivative used to describe an action which was inconsiderate and/or ignorant. ....."

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