[S]uch things, and so much of them as he can use, are, indeed, well for him, or Wealth; and more of them, or any other things, are ill for him, or Illth. [Ruskin, "Munera Pulveris"]
mid-15c., commoun welthe, "a community, whole body of people in a state," from common (adj.) + wealth (n.). Specifically "state with a republican or democratic form of government" from 1610s. From 1550s as "any body of persons united by some common interest." Applied specifically to the government of England in the period 1649-1660, and later to self-governing former colonies under the British crown (1917). In the U.S., it forms a part of the official name of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico but has no special significance.
"of or pertaining to the science or study of wealth or riches," 1853, from Greek ploutos "wealth" (see Pluto) + ending from economic. Fell from currency 1870s, revived 1990s. Related: Plutonomy (1851); plutonomics (1991, a 19c. word for "the science of wealth and the natural laws governing its production and distribution" was plutology); plutonomist (1869).
"wealth, riches, affluence," c. 1500, from French opulence (16c.), from Latin opulentia "riches, wealth," from opulentus "wealthy," a dissimilation of *op-en-ent-, which is related to ops "wealth, power, ability, resources," and to opus "work, labor, exertion" (from PIE root *op- "to work, produce in abundance").
Opulence is a dignified and strong word for wealth. Wealth and riches may mean the property possessed, and riches generally does mean it; the others do not. Affluence suggests the flow of wealth to one, and resulting free expenditure for objects of desire. There is little difference in the strength of the words. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
"government by the wealthy class; a class ruling by virtue of wealth," 1650s, from Greek ploutokratia "rule or power of the wealthy or of wealth," from ploutos "wealth" (see Pluto) + -kratia "rule" (see -cracy). Synonym plutarchy is slightly older (1640s). Pluto-democracy "plutocracy masquerading as democracy" is from 1895.
"a member of the aristocracy, person of wealth and distinction," 1755, a slang shortening of nobleman or some similar word. Related: Nobby; nobbily.