"the common people of a community, the multitude; persons not distinguished by rank, education, office, or profession," 1570s, from French populace (16c.), from Italian popolaccio "riffraff, rabble," from popolo "people" (from Latin populus "people;" see people (n.)) + pejorative suffix -accio.
That vast portion, lastly, of the working class which, raw and half-developed, has long lain half hidden amidst its poverty and squalor, and is now issuing from its hiding-place to assert an Englishman's heaven-born privilege of doing as he likes, and is beginning to perplex us by marching when it likes, meeting where it likes, bawling what it likes, breaking what it likes — to this vast residuum we may with great propriety give the name of Populace. [Matthew Arnold, "Culture and Anarchy," 1869]
updated on December 08, 2020