Dear Commie,

How do you pronounce bourgeois? What’s up with this word?

Thanks, Bad with Words

Dear Bad with Words,

“Bourgeois” is pronounced like boo-jwah. Maybe you’ve heard someone call something expensive “bougie”? Same thing. It comes from the word “bourgeoisie” (boo-jwah-zee), which originally referred to merchants and other businesspeople who lived in cities in the Middle Ages (“burghers”). In Marxism, bourgeoisie and “capitalist class” are often interchanged, because Marx explained how feudalism turned into capitalism as the bourgeoisie became the dominant class in society. Usually we just say capitalist class these days.

Yours, Commie.

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