Bourgeois vs. Bourgeoisie – What’s the Difference?

As languages go, English is relatively young. It borrowed many of its words from languages that already existed, like Latin, French, and older Germanic languages. Some loanwords have become so deeply integrated that most people don’t recognize them as not being native English words.

Others, though, are more obvious. Bourgeoisie, for instance, is unmistakably French, but it has become integrated into English. Another word, bourgeois, is also French.

Do these words mean the same thing? Continue reading to learn more.

What is the Difference Between Bourgeois and Bourgeoisie?

In this post, I will compare bourgeois vs. bourgeoisie. I will use each of these words in at least one example sentence, so you can see how it appears in context.

Plus, I will show you a helpful memory tool that will make it easier to choose either bourgeois or bourgeoisie in your writing.

When to Use Bourgeoisie

bourgeois versus bourgeoisie What does bourgeoisie mean? Bourgeoisie is a loanword from French and functions as a noun. It refers to the middle class of a society or the group of people between the poor and the wealthy upper class.

During the French Revolution, the bourgeoisie revolted against the monarchy and established a republic that gave them more personal liberties. The bourgeoisie also played a strong role in the global industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Here are some examples,

  • The popular rock band Five Iron Frenzy boasted that a song they wrote “could have bridged the gap between the classes, and overthrown the bourgeoisie,” but corruption in the entertainment industry prevented the song from ever being released.
  • Historians consider the ascent of the bourgeoisie to be one of the defining events of human history.
  • These days, the actress Gwyneth Paltrow, 43, is perhaps better known for her website, Goop.com, where New Age meets wellness meets urban bourgeoisie. –New York Times

When to Use Bourgeois

what is bourgeois What does bourgeois mean? Bourgeois, like bourgeoisie, is a loanword from French. Unlike bourgeoisie, though, it can be either a noun or an adjective.

As a noun, it has a similar meaning to bourgeoisie, where it means the middle class. Bourgeois can also refer to a specific member of the middle class, in other words, an individual person.

As an adjective, it means of or pertaining to the middle class. In practice, this term is usually used derogatively, with connotations of privilege, isolation from real social problems, arrogance, or vanity. This is also the origin of the term bougie.

Here are a few examples,

  • Stout, a bourgeois Irish pub on Division St, serves craft cocktails and upscale burgers, and has locations in Seattle, California, New York City, and Fort Lauderdale.
  • Suspicious of hierarchy and stasis, proponents of bourgeois values attacked monopoly and privilege and extolled free trade and free lives while setting great store by prudence, enterprise, decency and hope. –The Wall Street Journal

Trick to Remember the Difference

definition of bourgeoisie definition bourgeois definitionIf you are using the word as an adjective, your only option is bourgeois. Bourgeoisie is only a noun.

Bourgeoisie vs. Bourgeois Check: Bourgeoisie only refers to the middle class as a whole, while bourgeois can also refer to an individual member of this social class. Since bourgeoisie has an extra E, which is the letter that begins entire, it’s easy to remember that bourgeoisie refers to the entire middle class.

Summary

Is it bourgeoisie or bourgeois? Bourgeoisie is a French loanword that means the middle class. Bourgeois also refers to the middle class, but it can also refer to an individual middle class person or be used as an adjective that refers to characteristics of the middle class.

To summarize,

  • Bourgeoisie is a noun that means the middle class.
  • Bourgeois is an adjective that describes characteristics of the middle class.