Great Unwashed

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the great unwashed

The general public, especially those of the lower and lower-middle classes. Critics are hailing the film as a modern masterpiece, though it doesn't seem to be causing too great a stir among the great unwashed The world of the super rich is one that we among the great unwashed can't even begin to understand.
See also: great, unwashed
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

great unwashed, the

The working classes. The term showed up in print in the early nineteenth century in Theodore Hook’s The Parson’s Daughter (1833), where it appears in quotation marks. Exactly who first coined the phrase is not known, but in Britain it was used to describe the rabble of the French Revolution who rose up against the privileged classes. Although Eric Partridge said that its snobbishness had made it obsolescent by the 1940s, it is still used ironically.
See also: great
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer

Great Unwashed

A disparaging term for the common man. The phrase first appeared in an 1830 novel, Paul Clifford, by the British novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton: “He is certainly a man who bathes and ‘lives cleanly,' (two especial charges preferred against him by Messrs. the Great Unwashed).” Among other cynics (although they would call themselves realists) who used the phrase was H. L. Mencken, who also referred to the majority of Americans as the “booboisie.”
See also: great, unwashed
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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References in periodicals archive ?
Eradication of idiotic and disgusting supremacist ideals on one hand while citing 'the great unwashed' on the other?
However the comments were later taken down as they drew criticism from some Facebook users, who were unhappy at the use of the term the 'great unwashed' and denied that they were NIMBYs.
What a huge difference it was from City Hall where the great unwashed converged.
HUDDLED under their brollies on Roger Ridge, the 1st Battalion Great Unwashed would not be moved.
"I cannot ever recall experiencing the Pavilion both as full as it was for the Middlesex v Surrey 20/20 and so crammed with such predominantly repulsive, ill-behaved, apologies-for- membership-of-the-human- race what, for the most part, I would regard as 'The Great Unwashed'," The Telegraph quoted John "Fingers" Fingleton, a colorful club stalwart, as saying.
I read with dismay, then disgust, the news about Bishop Thomas Olmsted's reported decree that there would be no more cup at "ordinary" Masses, because it seems he fears the celebrant is being crowded out by the great unwashed who parade onto his stage to distribute the Eucharist.
Over the years we have had our share of white elephants, with cries of disgust and outrage from taxpayers ignored by the lofty elite who, unlike the great unwashed, know a thing or too when it comes to commissioning great works that will enhance our city's surroundings and put us on the cultural map.
There is a third official guy who is on the right of our line who is talking loudly about these great unwashed workers and how they cannot fill a simple form.
IF you view chilling in a field populated by the great unwashed as a costly exercise in deprivation, you could just create your own harmonious space at home.
Perhaps the chaps who switch on the fixtures computer could advise we great unwashed why, with just a matter of days to go before the whole shebang gets under way, there was a flurry of emails and telephone calls between the four participants trying to work out exactly who is to play who and when.
I don't think I represent a minority opinion from the "Great Unwashed" beyond the borders of Metro Toronto when I say that our system of government worked well in the crisis at the end of last year.
London's landmark Royal Opera House is throwing open its doors to the great unwashed on Sept.
The rest did not meet the requisite wealth requirements, leading one to believe the city was awash with the great unwashed and no one else.
Views that before would have been aired only in betting shops are now in the public domain, to the huge annoyance of the racing industry, who regard us, I am sure, as the great unwashed.