[Ads-l] elite, n.

Geoffrey Nunberg nunberg at ISCHOOL.BERKELEY.EDU
Sun Oct 25 23:14:37 UTC 2015

These days, that plural ‘elites’ often refers to sets of individuals —e.g., “Paris Hilton and other elites who live on their parents' wealth.” I did a post on this on LanguageLog a few years ago:

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002672.html <http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002672.html>

This  plural usage comes mostly but not exclusively from the right. It mirrors ‘minorities,’ which can also be an individual-denoting term these days (“There are only two minorities on the committee”).

(See also http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~nunberg/elite.html <http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~nunberg/elite.html> where I tried to track the history of the right's usage of ‘elite’ to a blurring of two older senses of the word— the political/economis sense you get in “the power elite” and the bon ton sense that appears in  “Elite Pastry Shop.” So this is arguably a new sense of the word.) 


> From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM <mailto:wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>>
> Subject: elite, n.
> Date: October 24, 2015 at 3:58:16 PM PDT
> Surely we're familiar with the relatively recent right-wing populist use of
> "elites" as a disparaging term.  OED isn't.
> I find a useful citation I jotted on a scrap of paper within the past three
> or four months. It comes from a recent TV show, though I can't say
> precisely what:
> "The elites - the press, Harvard, the East Coast establishment."
> JL
> -- 
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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