10 Demographic Names and Expressions
In researching various words used to describe the common people, I came across a scattering of other demographic denominations, including a couple (bobo and clerisy) I hadn’t known before. Like the previous list, this collection, which ranges in nature from sociological designations to synonyms for the learned to slang (and which is annotated with notes about each term’s connotation), may also help enrich your vocabulary:
1. Bobo: Someone with conflicting bourgeois and bohemian tastes; the word is a partial abbreviation of those two descriptors. The offspring (or modern equivalent) of yuppies, bobos favor liberal and progressive causes but are also conspicuous consumers thought of as having bad taste and banal interests. Pejorative.
2. Boomer: A person born during the post-World War II baby boom (roughly 1946-1964), a period in which, due in part to postwar prosperity, the US birthrate increased dramatically. The connotation is of a sociopolitically influential demographic growing up during a period of rapid and volatile social change. It also implies, at this point, a significant proportion of the US population becoming elderly and, because of boomers’ concerns and values, having a dramatic impact on issues of employment, retirement and retirement benefits, and health and welfare. Neutral.
3. Clerisy: Intellectuals as a class. From the German word Klerisei (“clergy”), derived from the Latin term clericus (“cleric”); at one time, literate people were for the most part confined to the clergy. Neutral, but obscure.
4. Demimonde: Originally, mistresses and prostitutes as a class, whose only attachment to respectable society is their benefactors and clients; the term, French for “half-world,” now has a broader sense of a social group segregated from society as a whole. Euphemism.
5. Hipster: An affectedly unaffected person, characterized by a self-conscious appearance and ostentatious about following cutting-edge social and technological trends. Derogatory.
6. Homeboy: A close friend, or a fellow gang member; originally applied to someone from one’s hometown. The term and its diminutive, variably spelled homey and homie, derived from usage by black and Latino twentieth-century urban migrants who associated with others who had come from the same city or town. Generally neutral, but also can be negative, because of racial associations.
7. Intelligentsia: Intellectuals as an elite subculture. From the Russian intelligentsiya, based on the Latin word for “intelligent.” Neutral, but dated.
8. Literati: Intellectuals, or those interested in the arts. The word, with a slight spelling change, is directly from Latin. Neutral.
9. Philistine: A materialistic, anti-intellectual person. The name (generally styled lowercased) stems from that of a tribe referred to in the Bible as being hostile to the Israelites, and therefore, by extension, inimical to culture. Derogatory, but also usually somewhat facetious.
10. Yuppie: A materialistic, social-climbing white-collar worker, socially liberal but economically conservative. This term, a diminutive of the acronym for “young, urban professional,” originated in the economic boom of the 1980s but faded with the downturn of financial fortunes later in the decade, though the stereotype, and those who inspired it, are still extant. Pejorative.
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